Fire safety tips given out at Oak Lawn museum
BY MIKE NOLAN email@example.com August 17, 2012 8:44PM
Nicholas Collardo, 2 years old, listens to a story as part of Firefighter Friday at the Oak Lawn Children's Museum. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 20, 2012 6:02AM
Michelle McGinnis says her two kids “love firefighters and they love stories.”
So bringing the two together was an unbeatable combination, the Mount Greenwood mom said.
Twice each month at the Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn, village firefighters take part in “Firefighter Friday,” reading stories to children and offering them — as well as their moms and dads — fire safety tips.
At a recent Firefighter Friday, a cluster of kids — many of whom are not yet in kindergarten — were hearing advice from firefighters that perhaps their older brothers and sisters hear in grade school, when firefighters visit in October for Fire Prevention Week.
It’s important to get the information out to kids of all ages, and Firefighter Friday “is another avenue to do that,” said Oak Lawn Fire Department Capt. Michael Boman, one of the firefighters speaking at the museum.
“It’s better (for the kids) to hear about fire safety from the firefighters rather than their parents,” McGinnis said. “I think they pay more attention.”
She brought her 4-year-old son, Connor, to the museum — he’s dressed as a firefighter the last three Halloweens, she noted — and heard firefighter/paramedic Michael Loughney read a children’s book about what a typical firefighter’s job is about. He and Boman quizzed kids about whether they and their parents have a plan for getting out of their house in the event of a fire.
If there is a fire and they’re in their bedroom with the door shut, the kids were told to stay in their room with the door closed, open a window and wait for firefighters to rescue them rather than try to escape.
“We don’t want you to get caught in the fire or the smoke,” Boman said.
He told kids not to crawl under their bed or into a closet.
“We don’t want you to hide from us,” Boman said. “That makes it like hide and seek.”
At many fire safety demonstrations, firefighters will don their breathing apparatus, which, to a little kid, is scary looking. The point is to get kids acclimated to how firefighters look when they’re doing their job and to not be afraid and try to hide if they see a firefighter in full gear coming to rescue them.
Boman said firefighters do full-gear demonstrations at other events, including Fire Prevention Week school visits, but “we wanted this (Firefighter Friday) to be a more casual setting.”
A schedule of Firefighter Friday sessions is available at the children’s museum’s website, www.cmoaklawn.org. Boman said the firefighters doing the presentation come from the department’s Station 3, located just down the street from the museum.
Parents don’t necessarily have to stop by the museum to get a better idea of what firefighters do, Boman said. The department “has an open-door policy,” and as long as there are firefighters at the station and not out on a call, moms and dads can drop by with their kids to talk with firefighters and see the gear they use, he said.