FEMA kicks off campaign to reduce youth fire deaths

From Staff Reports

   Children younger than age 5 have twice the risk of dying in a home fire as the rest of the nation's population, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which launched a public safety campaign Wednesday to beat those odds.
   According to FEMA, which became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in March, the safety campaign is to alert the public to the increased risk of fire death for babies and toddlers and to tell parents and caregivers how they can prevent such a tragedy in their homes.
   The U.S. Fire Administration, part of FEMA, initiated the campaign. The campaign's message emphasizes installing smoke alarms, securing lighters and matches, and developing a fire evacuation plan under the theme: "Prepare. Practice. Prevent the Unthinkable."
   Michael D. Brown, Homeland Security undersecretary, said, "A baby or toddler under age 5 dies nearly every day in a residential fire. These young children have a disproportionately higher risk of fire death than the rest of the population. They depend on their parents and caregivers to keep them safe, to prevent residential fires from starting, and to increase the chances that the entire family can escape a fire quickly and safely."
   From 1989 through 1998, 5,712 children died in fires in this country. "No child -- not a single one -- should suffer such an awful death, a death that can be prevented by parents who take the necessary precautions," said Fire Administrator R. David Paulison.
   "Every parent and every caregiver with young children depending on them must take a few simple but important steps to prevent this tragedy. Even toddlers can be taught how to quickly respond in case of fire and adults need to know how they will escape with infants."
   The Fire Safety Campaign for Babies and Toddlers includes four national partner organizations that have pledged to spread the message to parents and caregivers, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Safe Kids Campaigns, the National Fire Protection Association, and Zero to Three.
   Campaign materials include a print public service announcement, an educational video on fire safety for babies and toddlers, posters, brochures and fact sheets. The information is available in both English and Spanish at www.usfaparents.gov or can be ordered through the U.S. Fire Administration's Publications Online Catalog at www.usfa.fema.gov/applications/publications/.