Real and up close

Published 2:27 am Wednesday, April 23, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- It was all about fire safety for the children at the YMCA Learning Tree pre-school Tuesday.
However, it was also an opportunity for the young students to meet the local volunteer fire fighters, as well as having a look at a real fire truck.
Three volunteers from the Howard Township Fire Department talked to the pre-school students about fire safety and what to do in case of an emergency.
David Mattiford, one of the Howard Township Fire Department volunteer fire fighters talking to the children, said they try to teach the children how to recognize the sound of a smoke alarm, how to exit a smoke-filled room and other important things to keep in mind when caught in a dangerous situation involving fire.
He said ensuring the children know 9-1-1 should only be dialed in case of emergency, is important.
The students also receive a package containing coloring sheets, but more importantly, the package contains information related to fire safety and other safety issues parents can read and talk to their children about, he said.
He suggested parents can do their own fire drills at home and teach their children what to do and where to go in case of an emergency, ensuring the safety of everyone.
The packages the fire department receives, Mattiford said, come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Mattiford said the program, that deals with fire safety issues and other safety related issues, has been developed over the last three years.
He said each year the volunteer fire fighters try to reach as many people as possible with the information.
Kim Snouwaert, YMCA Learning Tree Pre-School teacher, appreciated having the fire fighters there to talk to the children about fire safety.
She said it's important the students are exposed to fire safety issues at a young age.
The presentation by the Howard Township fire fighters was also good repetition for the students, who in October last year had their own fire prevention week.
And throughout the presentation, Mattiford and the two other volunteers, Joe Korp and Jeremy Pitcher, demonstrated the drop, stop and roll procedure, showed the children how to crawl on the floor when exciting a smoke filled room, as well as showing them how to test if a smoke detector works.
They also went through the dangers associated with being around the kitchen stove and told the young students to be aware of hot surfaces.
To round up the presentation, the children were allowed outside for a close-up look at the township fire truck.
Some of them even got to honk the horn, more or less to the joy of YMCA neighbors.
Mattiford said he enjoys volunteering, and especially when it gives him a chance to speak to young children.