1st Impressions - Lasting Impressions

Should our first meeting with this age group go awry, a barrier will then be placed in the middle of the road for reaching out to these children in the future.

We end day two with the, "What's Hot - What's Not," game. We talk about burns and the need to stay away from things that are hot. We show various items to include toys, irons, curling irons, outlets, frying pans, etc. and ask the child, "What is this?" "Is it hot or is it not?" If it is a hot item, it goes next to the tool box as a "parent tool" and if it is not, then it goes by the toy box as a child's toy.

We also introduce smoke detectors at the end of the second day, as by this time the children are comfortable with us, and each subsequent day will end with the sounds of a smoke detector and basic E.D.I.T.H. skills. We introduce the detector as our, "Smoke detector puppy dog." We correlate smoke detectors with a puppy dog because both have a nose (which we show), both sniff and both bark at danger, and it is an easy mental relationship for the child to understand. "So what does a puppy dog do when it smells danger?" We talk about barking and have all the children make barking noises until they are laughing, and then introduce the "Smoke detector puppy dog's bark." With each "beep," the puppy dog talks, BEEP - "Get," BEEP - "Out of," BEEP - "The house!" We have the children repeat this with each beep, getting louder and louder until they drown out the detector, taking away the detector's intimidating sound. No matter how old they get or where they are, when we activate the smoke detector, the former student always repeats in cadence, "Get - out of - the house."

After day two, all children get a coloring book and are challenged to find the, "smoke detector puppy dog," as well as the "Tools and Toys" and "What's Hot, What's Not," items.

Day Three

We start day three with a recap of the last two days; repetition is an important learning tool for this age.

On day three we play the "Stop-Drop-Roll" game. We use a cloth mat and cloth flames with Velcro. We tape the "flames" to the child and ask, "You've got fire on your cloths, what do you do now?" The entire class replies with excitement, "Stop-Drop-Roll." The child then rolls around until all of the "flames" come off.

Day three finishes with our "smoke detector" puppy dog barking. The class gets up and marches to the door, feels the door for heat, then over to the window where we then practice "making funny faces" at the pretend firefighters outside. This emphasizes the need to go to the window where they can be seen and signal for help. Just as with the cadence of the talking "smoke detector puppy dog," children will always remember making faces or throwing stuffed animals out the window to get the firefighter's attention.

Each child gets a "Junior Firefighter" badge on day three.

Day Four

Day four is the day we bring our "Firefighter Friends," the ones we have been talking about all week, to the class. As before we start with a recap of the previous days, complete with making noises, character voices and the march to the tune of the "smoke detector puppy dog."

On this day we have all the children sit semi-circle, and have a firefighter in a station uniform stand before them. We then talk about the special clothes firefighters wear during emergencies, the same special clothes we had read about in the story book on the first day, and we repeatedly ask, "Is this firefighter scary, should you be afraid of him?" We keep asking that question as the firefighter slowly places on all his gear, piece by piece after the children have had a chance to touch it.

Before the firefighter "breaths air," we have the children make a loud sucking noise as they breathe in and out, and the firefighters laugh at the silly noise the children just made. The firefighter in gear then goes "on air" in an attempt to make the same sucking noise as the children, and then the children breath with him, making the sucking noises. "He sounds just like you doesn't he?"

Then we play the "Where are you?" game. The children sit semi circle, placing their feet out in front of them. The firefighter in gear and breathing air says loudly, "Where are you," to which the children reply, "Here I am!" The firefighter repeats this as he crawls around the circle and tapes the feet of each child. This introduces the children to the sounds of a firefighter in gear and to respond to his calls. Once the circle is complete, the firefighter goes to the center of the circle and the children come up to shake his/her hand and touch the gear. Very rarely, at this point, is there a child afraid to shake the firefighter's hand. We have found that female firefighters work best during this period of the program.