Fire Safety: Smoke detectors are just a vital part of protecting lives and property

The question was irresistible to the kindergartners.

“Would that be fun, to give your parents some homework?” Hood River firefighter Michelle Beaman asked first graders last week.

The occasion was the visit by Beaman and fellow volunteer Kip Mitchell to Meli Santillan’s classroom at May Street School for “Stop Drop and Cover” and learn-not-to-burn education.

The kids know that October is Fire Prevention Month; if you weren’t aware of it, please turn to page A12 for details.

The first-graders’ homework was to go home and ask their parents to check their smoke detectors to make sure they are working.

Besides installing smoke detectors, two main themes came with the firefighters’ visit last week, and they are good ones for adults, too:

n Have a plan for getting out of your home safely, but also learn the escape routes from your business, school or church;

n Don’t play with matches or lighters.

For adults, this means ensuring they are out of reach of children, and moreover to make sure all potentially flammable or harmful materials are stored safely.

Of course, on the topic of smoke detectors it is up to the adults to see they are purchased, installed and maintained.

That homework is something anyone can carry out. If you don’t have them, get them installed as soon as you can, and remember to check them at least monthly. Those small items are true lifesavers.

The firefighters encountered a pretty savvy set of 6-year-olds in their classroom visit. They asked the following questions:

“What if it (the detector) doesn’t work? (It goes “beep.”)

“What if you don’t have one?”

Beaman replied, “If you ask your parents and you don’t have one, you come by our fire station and the firefighters will help you get one.”

“Where is the fire station?” asked another child. (Right next to the swimming pool, on May Street.)


The fire department is available online, at, and calls to the office are welcome. If there are kids in your home they doubtless will have their own questions (adults might, too) about readiness and fire safety, and those resources are readily available.

Kids are naturally curious about firefighters. One youngster also posed this question to Beaman and Miller: “Where do you guys actually live?”

“Sometimes we have to live at the station, but we live in regular houses like you do,” Beaman said.

And a regular house that has more than one smoke detector.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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