A couple of months ago, Alivia and I were at swimming lessons at Eileen Dailly pool, we were in the family change room when we started to hear crackling over the loud speaker, the change rooms are quite nosy so I couldn’t hear really what was being said. I brushed it off and went back to getting Livvy showered and dressed. Suddenly, the fire alarm started going off LOUDLY. In a panic, I rushed to quickly throw on some clothes and throw everything in a bag, in what felt like an eternity, staff was banging on doors telling people they needed to get OUT NOW.
My heart stopped, what was probably only a minute felt like an eternity, I panicked, I couldn’t seem to get my pant leg on, I couldn’t keep my hands steady enough to throw on a tshirt. In the end, I ended up just barely dressed (with nothing underneath), grabbed Alivia in a wet towel and ran outside.
We walked out to 3 fire trucks, an ambulance and the complex crawling with fire fighters and emergency crews. My heart was racing what “what ifs”, what if I wasn’t going fast enough, what if we were trapped, what if I couldn’t get her out in time. I clutched Alivia as close to me as possible and ran to the grass to get her dressed.
I put in a frantic call to her dad, asking him to please PLEASE come and get us, I was struggling to keep my cool, I was still scared, still thinking the worst and I just needed some help. Within seconds of laying her eyes on her dad, Alivia burst into tears about how scared she was, how the bright lights and sounds were hurting her ears, how mommy made her run outside in a towel, how the people yelling scared her..
This was our first experience up close with fire fighters. Imagine the terror that not only I felt, but also my 3 year old daughter. Sure, she had seen fire fighters walking the streets in their navy work uniforms, she had smiled and laughed with them when they handed her a balloon at Hat’s off Day, but she had never seen them like this, and she was scared. She wanted as far away from them as possible.
Recently we took a field trip to our local firehall in Burnaby to take a look at the equipment, ask some questions and of course have some fun in hopes of educating the kids on what fire fighters do and more importantly, that they are here to help us! This was a therapeutic trip for us, my secret hope was that she would no longer be scared of the big red “wee-ooo” trucks anymore!
A tour at your local firehall is completely free, feel free to stop by any time you see the trucks or if you would like a more in depth tour for your family, call ahead and let them know how many people are coming. We had our tour on a day they were finishing some renovations and only had a chance to see the truck, but the kids still had a blast!
A huge benefit to tours like this is exposing children to the firefighters and their equipment. It is so important for kids to know that in an emergency, especially a fire where seconds really matter, to go TO emergency rescuers and not away from them.
This seems obvious. But when firefighters are responding to a call, they are wearing 50lbs of equipment. Besides the fireproof jacket and pants, boots and helmet that kids might except, they also carry oxygen tanks and wear masks which can lend a frightening look to these heroes in an already scary situation. Seeing them all geared up in a non threatening environment and getting to ask questions helps children understand what they can expect to see in an emergency. We had a lot of fun playing with the lights, pretending to drive and even shooting the fire hose!
Some helpful tips we received while on our tour:
- turn off appliances when leaving the house. I’m as guilty as the next mom for wanting to come home to clean dishes or laundry, but after my neighbours dishwasher caught on fire while they were away from home, I make sure nothing is running before going out the door.
- dispose of and store batteries properly. Under the right conditions, batteries have been known to start fires in garbage cans and drawers.
- dispose of cigarette/cigar butts in an ashtray wherever possible. If outside stamp it out in the sand or away from any grass, brush or mulch. Embers from butts can smoulder for a long time waiting to a shift in the wind to give it the oxygen it needs to burst into flames. Many fires are started this way. Please butt it out.
- have at least 1 smoke alarm per floor, ideally near hallways/bedrooms. Make sure to check your batteries yearly and be mindful of the expiration date of the alarm
I’ve only touched on a small bit of fire safety and prevention, but I encourage you to learn more and get prepared if you aren’t already. Everything I have mentioned and so much more can be found at fiprecan.ca. To book a tour, contact your local firehall.
A huge thank you to the North Burnaby Fire Hall for hosting our crazy group, the kids were thrilled with their volunteer fire chief hats and can’t wait to come back for the full tour. Please take a moment whenever possible to thank these wonderful men and women for all they do to keep us safe.