Members of the Rotary Club of Columbia County met a few times in the past two weeks firming up the final details of what they hope will be the biggest and best Fire Fest so far.
The free fire prevention and education festival is slated for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11, in the Doctors Hospital field behind the Evans Kroger shopping center on Washington Road.
One of last year's most popular attractions, the firefighters' muster competition, will return. At least six firefighting teams will compete in several fire-related events such as hose relays, a water-barrel shoot and a tug-of-war.
"That is the first draw of this festival," said Larry Lynn, Rotary club member and event organizer. "This is a great venue for firefighters to put on the muster events. (The teams) are good, and what they do is amazing."
The festival also will feature hot-air balloon rides and pony rides, and displays from the Gold Cross and Georgia Forestry Commission helicopters.
Blue Ridge Elementary School pupil Jessie Arnold, 8, waits as Christopher Punch, 8, runs out of the Martinez Fire Department fire safety house Thursday.
Photo by Valerie Rowell
The festival was designed to educate children about fire safety and offers activities for them, including a giant sandbox with hidden prizes, a playground, a petting zoo, carnival games, service-dog demonstrations, fire safety houses from the Grovetown Department of Public Safety and Martinez Fire Department, and the "kiddie squirt," in which children can shoot a real fire hose.
"If we can get one smiling face, it will be worth it," said Lee Clark, an event organizer and club member.
October is Fire Safety Month, and the Martinez Fire Department takes educating children seriously. They spend much of the month at elementary schools teaching children about fire safety with fire truck tours and a specially designed house for pupils to practice escape techniques.
"Well, if we can teach kids, we can make a difference," Chief Doug Cooper said. "The parents actually learn from the kids. Sometimes the kids go home and point out something that is not quite right."
Battalion Chief Danny Kuhlmann recently led Blue Ridge Elementary School second-graders through the fire-safety house, stopping in each room of the house to point out specific areas of danger.
"Hot water will burn you just like a fire will," Kuhlmann told the children while discussing bathroom and kitchen dangers.
To bring information to a second-grade level, he compared a smoke detector to a dog that will bark when a stranger approaches his house in the middle of the night.
"His job is to smell the air," Kuhlmann said. "If he smells smoke, he will bark and chirp and make noise."
Basic Household Fire Safety Tips:
* When cooking keep pot handle facing in.
* Leave at least three-feet around space heaters.
* Never burn unattended candles.
* Always use a fireplace screen to keep hot logs and sparks in.
* Use oven mitts when handling hot pots or dishes.
* Keep pot lids handy when cooking to place on if a fire starts.
* Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
* When opening a hot oven, open and look in from the side to avoid steam or heat burns.
* Never get appliances like hair dryers or radios close to a bathtub.
* Keep the bedroom door closed while sleeping.
What to do before a fire starts:
* Place smoke detectors near sleeping areas of the home and on all levels. Replace the batteries and test it twice a year.
* Develop an escape plan and practice it often. Know two routes out of every room.
What to do in case of fire:
* If smoke is in the room, crawl on the floor and check the door for heat. If it is hot, keep it closed and try the secondary escape route.
* If the detector goes off, but no or little smoke is in the room, check the door for heat. If no heat, open it and watch for smoke. If smoke comes into the room through the door, close it, roll up a towel or piece of clothing at the base and try the secondary exit. If little or no smoke is outside the door, try to leave.
* Leave immediately according to the escape plan. When out, stay out and go straight to the designated meeting place, usually a mailbox.
What to do if you get burned:
* Run cool water over the burn for five to 10 minutes.
* Never put ice on a burn.
* Never put oils, sprays or ointments on a serious burn unless your doctor tells you it's OK.
Source: Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine's office.
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