“Momma, the fireman at school said we need to throw out clutter.”
That was my comment one night after the local fire department had sent over a fire prevention officer to my elementary school to talk about fire safety.
The nice fireman handed out coloring books to my 3rd grade class, and I went home and colored, intrigued by big red fire trucks, brave men in fire suits and axes.
The coloring book warned of extension cord misuse, safe storage of gasoline and… clutter. That was what I took away from the study of fire prevention in addition to some pretty cool fire trucks. I remember the points to today and am wary when I plug in and extension cord, set down a gas can or stack up some boxes of junk. I still have the junk.
That makes me my mother’s son, I suppose. She was not amused by her 8-year-old’s suggestion that she should straighten up the house. She remained firm on the issue until we moved her into the nursing home.
But the fire prevention educational effort has paid off for many American families, including those in Pickens and Anderson counties. That’s why the Easley Fire Department puts such a huge emphasis on its annual drop-in at Station 2. The event came around again last week and drew 1,000 people to learn about fire prevention, blow the siren on the fire department and learn about fire safety.
An important key to the effort, according to Easley Fire Chief Butch Womack is targeting children for the educational effort. “They are the ones that will really retain it,” he said.
Mom would add, “They are the ones that will bug you non-stop.”
It is important stuff though. Firefighters and reporters see a lot of messed up lives and dreams because of carelessness and ignorance that a little talk from the fire prevention officer can help avoid. Extension cords with four things plugged into them running behind a bunch of clutter can be a real problem.
Misuse of gasoline can kill. I’ve reported on and witnessed the deaths of four people from two such incidents of misuse. Carelessness and ignorance were the killers, really. They may not have known initially. They should have known, but both had gotten away with the practice for some time.
Authorities suspect a cigarette in one case ignited fumes from gas cans being carried in the backseat of a car on a fall afternoon. In another case, a family was taking the inexpensive route, using gasoline to clean carpet adhesive from the floor of a bedroom. They had done it for weeks until fumes collected sufficiently next to water heater and the pilot light set off an explosion. The cost cutting measure became very expensive for that family.
Every firefighter I know would want to avoid the kind of suffering that those people went through. That is why the Easley Fire Department and every Pickens County and Anderson County fire department in our coverage area deserves applause for prevention efforts.
Sorry y’all, my mom likely would not be joining in.