What Is S.A.F.E.?
The Student Awareness of Fire Education (S.A.F.E.) Program is a state initiative to provide resources to local fire departments to conduct fire and life safety education programs in grades K-12. The mission is to enable students to recognize the dangers of fire and more specifically the fire hazards tobacco products pose.
Key Fire Safety Behaviors
There are 23 Key Fire Safety Behaviors that should be taught in age and developmentally appropriate ways, such as:
- Stop, Drop, and Roll
- Making and Practicing Home Escape Plans
- Reporting Fires and Emergencies
- Crawl Low Under Smoke
- Smoke Detector Maintenance
- Kitchen Safety
- Holiday Safety and more
Fire and life safety is easily combined with math, science, language arts, health, and physical education lessons. Integration into the existing curriculum topics is essential.
- Training children reduces anxiety levels so they are able to react to stressful situations
- Fire, School, Health and Police Departments working together to help children survive
- Family medical and health care cost reductions
- Firefighter as a role model
- Fires, burns and deaths reduced.
Since the S.A.F.E. Program was initially funded, there have been 259 documented “YOUNG HEROES”. – children who put into practice the fire and life safety lessons they learned in the classroom during a real life emergency to save themselves or others. Many families claim they are alive today because their youngsters “made” them install smoke alarms and practice a home escape plan, or reported an emergency, or persuaded a grandmother to ‘stop, drop, and roll’. Some success stories are:
- A 3-year old notices a neighbor’s house in flames and tells mother to call 9-1-1.
- A 9-year old leads 4-year old brother to the family meeting place.
- An 8-year old makes family develop and practice escape plan as part of S.A.F.E. Program homework. Family of five uses the escape plan to get out alive a few weeks later.
- A 12-year old boy blocks smoke by closing the door and covering the crack with a blanket to save four younger siblings and himself.
- A girl leads her brother to safety by crawling low under smoke in the house to outdoors.
- A boy calls 9-1-1 to save his sister from choking.
- A first grader senses his mother is not well and saves her from a life threatening blood clot by calling 9-1-1 despite her protestations that “she’s fine”.
How Was S.A.F.E. Originally Funded?
- The careless use and disposal of smoking materials is the single leading cause of fire deaths in the state and in the country.
- Due to the tremendous risk of injury and death in fires started by tobacco products, the Legislature appropriated funding from monies raised through the cigarette sales tax for Fiscal Years 1996 to 2002.
Since 2002, the approximately 200 fire departments who were able to keep their programs alive have done so sharing a federal grant, which was one-third of the funding received in previous years, and through support from their local communities.