Creative New Online Tools Teach Children Critical Lessons in Fire-Safety
The Sleep Products Safety Council and the National Crime Prevention Council Join Forces for National Fire Prevention Week 2004 (October 3-9)
WASHINGTON, DC, September 30, 2004 – Each year, nearly 40,000 children are injured by home fires that could be avoided if families took simple steps to protect themselves from common hazards that put their homes and lives at risk. The Sleep Products Safety Council (SPSC) and the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) have joined forces to help educate families on such hazards in support of National Fire Prevention Week – October 3-9, 2004.
The organizations have created two interactive Web games for kids that feature NCPC’s famous McGruff the Crime Dog® and Scruff® characters to help communicate vital fire safety information to children via the Internet. Together, SPSC and NCPC seek to provide parents with the tools they need to inform children of key fire safety tips and common dangers that exist in the home, especially the peril of playing with fire.
“It is heartbreaking that children may not realize the devastating consequences of playing with fire until it’s too late,” said Pat Martin, executive director of SPSC. “It is critical that parents teach their children about the dangers of fire and keep their home, especially the bedroom and kitchen, free of typical hazards.”
According to the United States Fire Administration, over half of child-playing fires in the home begin in a bedroom. Two-thirds of these bedroom fires are started by children playing with matches and lighters which tragically ignite bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture or clothing.
The new kid-friendly games developed by SPSC and NCPC aim to help parents communicate dangers to their children in an entertaining way. From an interactive “Puzzle and Paint” to a “Keep Scruff Fire Safe” game that leads children to detect bedroom and kitchen hazards, the games provide children with valuable insight on what dangers to look for and how to tell an adult of any unsafe situation. Encouragement by McGruff and his nephew Scruff helps to drive the message home to kids on the incredible importance of fire awareness and personal safety.
“Many of the life skills we teach children about prevention issues -- such as avoiding drugs and weapons -- are the same skills they need to understand fire safety,” said John Rosiak, director of children and youth initiatives at NCPC. “We are proud that our characters, McGruff and Scruff, can help the SPSC tackle this important child protection issue.”
The new games are featured on NCPC’s popular kid’s Web site www.mcgruff.com
and in the kid’s section of SPSC’s consumer education site www.safesleep.org.
In addition to the games, the sites also feature key prevention tips for children as well as for parents.
What Parents Can Do. Parents play a critical role in keeping their families and children safe from home fires. Following are some recommended tips from SPSC and NCPC:
- Educate your children about fire-safety. Make sure your children know that fire can be dangerous. Teach them to recognize potential hazards, like worn-out electrical cords, candles burning unattended and over-loaded wall sockets. Encourage them to ask for your help when using space heaters and other electrical appliances. Teach them to NEVER play with matches and lighters under any circumstance and explain to them why.
- Remove potential hazards. Don’t leave matches, lighters or cigarettes lying around. Remove old electrical cords and plug up unused electrical sockets. Keep clothes, drapes, mattresses, bedding and all other flammables away from burning candles, space heaters and stoves. Tell children not to play or leave toys near the oven or stove-top.
- Think like a kid. In fact, bend down or crawl around on the ground if you must – to see what may catch a child’s eye. Household items that seem obviously dangerous to you might seem like toys to your children.
- Have the right tools. Smoke alarms save lives! See that all smoke detectors in your home are working properly and always remember to change the batteries. Make sure you have at least one on each floor, especially in or directly outside bedrooms.
- Make an escape plan and share it. Have your family practice leaving the house in case of a fire. Teach them two different ways to leave each room. Choose a special meeting place for your family in case a fire start and teach them to immediately get out and stay out. PRACTICE and get the whole family involved.
- Lead by example. Show your children that fire is a tool, not a toy. They will listen. Remember: education can save your child’s life.
to access the new games as well as additional information on fire prevention and personal safety.
The Sleep Products Safety Council is a non-profit service organization established in 1986 by the International Sleep Products Association. SPSC's mission is to provide consumer safety information, support research and promote activities aimed at reducing hazards associated with mattresses and other sleep products.
The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) is a private, nonprofit tax-exempt [501(c)(3)] organization whose primary mission is to enable people to create safer and more caring communities by addressing the causes of crime and violence and reducing the opportunities for crime to occur. For more information on children’s issues, visit www.mcgruff.org
or visit www.ncpc.org
for information on many topics and issues related to crime prevention.