By Dale Xilon, Aboriginal Healthy Babies Healthy Children Coordinator

blazing-successAHBHC Coordinator Dale Xilon with group of primary students
discussing how to plan to escape during a fire

After careful planning by dedicated volunteers, the spark of safety ignited by one Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizen was fanned into a flaming success. George Goodchild, from Webb Wood, in the township of Sables-Spanish Rivers, is both a proud Métis man and the volunteer Assistant Fire Chief for his community. George approached Dale Xilon, the MNO Aboriginal Healthy Babies Healthy Children (AHBHC) Coordinator in Sudbury to see if the MNO would be interested in partnering with his Fire Department to bring a fire safety program to three of the elementary schools, covered by the volunteer fire department of Sables-Spanish Rivers.

blazing-success2Fire Chief Rodney Houle demonstrates to older students how some
safety equipment is used by the Fire Department

On April 4, 2011, Dale along with Community Wellness Worker Desneige Taylor, accompanied Fire Chief Rodney Houle, four Assistant Fire Chiefs, 25 Fire Fighters from all four crews of the Sables-Spanish Rivers volunteer fire department and a few of the fire fighters’ wives, on a one day adventure teaching fire safety to an amazing 340 students and the staff of three area schools.

The program included a tour of four fire trucks and an explanation of how each functions. While the younger students enjoyed a video and practice demonstrations led by Sparky the Fire Dog, older students watched demonstrations on how to use a fire extinguisher and other fire department equipment; such as the heat-seeking camera.

Fun was had by all but most importantly important safety knowledge was passed on. The importance of passing on this information was readily apparent when children were asked what they would like do in case of a fire. It was amazing and very scary to hear how many children planned to jump out of their bedroom windows upon hearing the fire alarm, even if this was far from being the best choice! When the students were asked why, the most frequent answer was: “I saw it in a movie.”

So, please develop a fire escape plan with your children including designating a safe place to meet once you are outside of the house. Practice the route with your children so you all are prepared. Also, remember to test your fire alarm and change its batteries at least twice a year.