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Trusting helpful stranger

Imagine you’re a small child. It’s the middle of the night and you’re startled awake by the piercing and unrelenting sound of a high-pitched beeping.

Your bedroom is hazy and it’s hard to breathe. You can’t see clearly because your eyes are stinging. It’s hot and you’re scared.

Suddenly a large figure covered head to toe in a bulky material approaches you and wants to scoop you up. You can’t see the figure’s face but you can hear it breathing through the black mask on its face.

Do you run away from the stranger or towards him?

Hopefully, any child in that situation would recognize the figure as a firefighter. But for those who have never seen a firefighter dressed out in full gear, the sight could be quite scary, especially if his or her home has been invaded by smoke and flames.

That’s why the Ironton Fire Department and other fire departments across the county use fire prevention month to visit preschools, daycares and elementary schools across the county to show children what to do during a fire.

In addition to teaching the children how to stop, drop and roll, firefighters explained how important it is to get out of a burning house, rather than hide, and to call 911 at a neighbor’s home.

Perhaps most importantly, children got to meet the firefighters and see what they look like when dressed in their gear so they won’t be afraid if a times comes when that shadowy figure approaches.

Even adults can become frightened and confused during a house fire, so teaching children early on how to handle the situation can make all the difference in a life or death situation.