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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