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State Fire Marshal Joins Fema in Campaign to Prevent Fire Deaths among Infants, Toddlers and Children


Tami Torres or Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida State Fire Marshal's Office is joining the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in warning parents that young children have a heightened risk of death or injury from fire.

Florida's Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who also serves as State Fire Marshal, said tragedy can strike quickly. In Florida, a fire is reported on average every 14 minutes.

"Prevention and preparedness are the best defenses to fire," Gallagher said. "Every home should have a working smoke detector and every family should have an escape plan."

In 2001 and 2002, 23 Florida children under the age of 10 died from fire-related injuries compared to 12 deaths among those ages 11 to 20.

The U.S. Fire Administration is housed within FEMA, and this week FEMA is releasing a state-by-state report on fire deaths involving babies and toddlers.

Gallagher joins FEMA in urging parents to follow these fire safety tips:

·Keep matches and lighters out of sight and reach of children.

·Teach children to tell you if they find matches or a lighter.

·If your child displays a curiosity about matches or lighters, calmly but firmly explain that they are for adult use only.

·Keep the door to an infant's room closed and install a smoke detector inside and use a baby monitor to hear if the alarm sounds. In the event of a fire, a closed door will slow the smoke, giving firefighters more time for rescue.

·Keep a baby harness by the baby's crib so in the event of a fire you can carry your baby and have your hands free.

·Familiarize children with the sound of an alarm and teach them that when they hear it they are to leave the house and go to a designated meeting spot, which should be part of every escape plan.

·Involve your children in making an escape plan.

·Teach children to crawl low under smoke to escape and, before opening any doors, to touch the door knob with the back of their hand to feel if it is hot. Teach them that if it is hot, they should use the alternative exit.

·Teach them to cover their nose and mouth to reduce smoke inhalation.

·Keep doors and exits free of toys and clutter.

FEMA's campaign theme is "Prepare. Practice. Prevent the Unthinkable." For more information, visit the Florida State Fire Marshal's Office website at or FEMA's web site at