A Christmas Tragedy and a Harsh ReminderBy Child Safety Specialist Jan 3, 2012 | 02:00:00 pmPosted in: Carbon Monoxide
In the early hours of Christmas Day a terrible house fire took the lives of a 10 year-old girl, 7 year-old twins and their grandparents in the town near me. It was a beautiful mansion overlooking the Long Island Sound that was undergoing renovation. The girls’ mother and a family friend who was working on the home, escaped. I can’t even begin to imagine the anguish this woman is going through. I’m sure she is wishing she had died along with her family.
The fire started on the first floor of the home after the male friend put embers from the fireplace in a bag in the mudroom or a trash bin outside. Within two hours of doing this, firefighters had already been called about the fire. Apparently the home was an inferno. Numerous fire fighters tried to rescue the girls and their grandparents but the fire was too intense. Four fire fighters sustained injuries attempting the rescue. The male friend had tried to escape with two of the girls but the girls panicked, turned around and went back up the stairs. One of the girls was found with her grandmother on the stairs between the second and third floor. The grandfather had climbed out on a roof, apparently attempting to rescue the third girl but must have fallen through the rafters. The little girl’s body was found on a stack of books near the window. Officials report they had to pull the mother away from the fire as she struggled to go back in and save her family.
Any fire is horrific but the fact that this one happened on Christmas Day, took the lives of three little girls and happened in the town next to mine has deeply affected me. We all talk about fire safety with our kids. They practice fire drills at school. But do we really….and I mean really practice them at home? Last night I sat my kids down and told them that this morning we’re having a fire drill. My daughter reminded me that they should always know three escape routes. I reminded them that if a fire happens, they should only think about themselves and getting out. They shouldn’t try to save a doll, clothes or even each other – that’s up to me and the firefighters. I explained that they should immediately run across the street to the neighbor’s house and for no reason try to come back into the house. This was most difficult for my son to understand. As the oldest he kept insisting that he would help to save me. I had to keep insisting that I never want him to do that. I realize this talk scared them a little but perhaps that’s not a bad thing. I needed to make them understand that their only job is to try and save themselves if there’s a fire.
And, as our Christmas trees start drying out and we move further into the cold months, think carefully about all the fire hazards around your home. A candle that accidently tips over, a long sleeved bathrobe too close to a cook top and especially embers in a fireplace still burning when you go to bed. All of them can cause devastation and tragedy that can change your life in an instant.
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