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Fires kill, even in daycare centers

July 12, 2008

My daughter is 25 now, so it’s been a long while since I worried about daycare. I remember that stress: choosing quality daycare I could afford where I thought she would learn and grow mentally and socially. I needed to be sure the environment stimulated her developing brain and let her have fun. I entrusted her to “strangers” for an hourly pittance and expected they would care for her nearly as much as I did.

Of course I wanted a safe place for her as well. In my mind, safe mostly meant from abuse, sexual or otherwise. I have to admit that fire safety in her daycare never crossed my mind. Not once.

I did not ask – ever – if they:

  • tested their smoke alarms?
  • regularly changed batteries in the smoke alarm?
  • had regular fire drills?
  • had fire extinguishers and knew how to use them?
  • had a system to account for everyone?
  • promised they could get my Sarah out in an emergency?

I am probably not much different from most other parents. Today in Tallahassee, Florida, a family is mourning the death of their 4-year-old because of a fire at her daycare yesterday.

I believe as a mom I can imagine their anguish. I think about an E.R. doctor telling me, “I’m sorry, your baby is gone,” and my stomach clenches, my throat goes dry. My knees weaken and I know I would collapse if this was happening in my real world.

I am so very sorry for this family. The daycare’s staff surely is ill with guilt and grief…something you probably never really get over.

For other parents out there, ask those questions. And make sure your home environment is safe, too. Check your smoke detectors, practice your escape plan, teach your children, “Stop, Drop and Roll.” This Web site has good info for all stages of life: http://www.firesafety.gov/

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