School Fire Safety Hinges on Notification

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(NewsUSA) - While "stop, drop and roll" may have been the primary safety issue on the minds of school children 20 years ago, thoughts of school violence and terrorism are more prevalent today. Because of this, it's important to remind children of what to do when a more common safety issue such as a fire presents itself.

Although schools are required by law to have smoke alarms and evacuation plans, it's a good idea for parents to take the time to prepare their children. Here are some points to remember when teaching your kids about school fire safety:

* Brief them about the procedure of an evacuation. To set your children's nerves at ease, tell them where you will be in the event of an emergency. For instance, if your children's school has adopted a mass notification system such as IRIS (www.useiris.com), let your kids know that you will always be informed of any emergency that occurs.

IRIS, short for Immediate Response Information System, is a high-speed notification service that sends messages to thousands of people in seconds, transmitting voice and text alerts to multiple devices such as cell phones, PDAs and fax machines. Emergency messages can be sent in more than 10 languages.

Check whether your county's schools have adopted such a system, and if not, encourage authorities to do so. These systems not only inform parents of emergencies, they make recovering kids from an evacuation easier as well.

* Make sure they're familiar with their school's layout. With your children in tow, take a walk around the school, and make them familiar with possible escape routes.

Locate all the exits, and make sure that your children know where they are in relation to different classrooms. During an evacuation, they will probably be guided by their teachers, but in case they get separated, it's useful for them to know the school's layout on their own.

* Feel first. Teach your children basic fire safety precautions. For instance, when fleeing a fire, make sure that they know to feel the surface of a door before opening it.

A hot door could mean that a fire is present in the room they're about to enter. In this case, it may be necessary to find another exit route, a fact that lends credence to the importance of being familiar with the school's layout.

* Stay low. Advise your children to crouch while walking if they have to evacuate their school. Smoke rises, so staying low is vital to keeping safe if a fire is burning nearby.

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School Fire Safety Hinges on Notification

Schools everywhere are making things safer thanks to emergency response systems like IRIS.

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Word Count: 415
Article Date: January 4, 2008

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