NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Meet the Meredith boys. Six-year-old Asher is the rambunctious one. Eight-year-old Cooper is adventurous, and 12-year-old Zack is all about book-smarts.
The boys live on the bottom floor of their Donelson home, while their parents stay upstairs.
“You just never know what could possibly happen,” their mother Sara Meredith said. “Even as safe as you can be, there can always be that one thing that could happen. You just don’t want to take a chance that anybody could lose their lives.”
Enter Baylie Scott and Alex Daugherty with the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office. The two travel around to schools to push the importance of fire escape plans.
This time though, Scott and Daugherty decided to make a house call.
“This setup that we have here is pretty typical for nowadays,” Scott said. “The children are on a different level of the home than the parents, so that makes it even more important for the children to know what to do in the case of a fire because there’s a good chance the parents won’t be able to get to the children.”
Scott explained to the boys that she and Daugherty would check smoke alarms and help their family create a home fire safety plan.
Up first, Scott and Daugherty checked the home’s smoke alarms, which are the first line of defense against fires.
Of the 76 fatal fires in 2016, which resulted in 109 deaths, the State Fire Marshal’s Office reported smoke alarms were only clearly present in 27.6 percent. About 33 percent had no alarms and in 39.5 percent of cases it was unclear if a smoke alarm was present.
According to Scott, it’s important to check the batteries in your smoke alarms every six months, when you change your clock for Daylight Saving Time; however, it is also important to make sure all smoke alarms in your home are less than 10 years old.
Sensors stop working in smoke alarms after 10 years, so even though the alarm can still beep, it likely no longer senses smoke and is useless.
All smoke alarms in the Meredith household are fairly new and appear to be in working order.
“You’re also supposed to have them inside and outside of each bedroom, and it looks like you’ve got that covered too, so you’re looking good,” Scott said.
The next step is making sure your family has a fire safety plan.
“Draw the house and then practice ways out in case there’s a fire,” Scott said. “You want to have two ways out of every single room.”
Scott suggests placing the final drawn out map with your escape route on the fridge so that your family will look at it several times per day.
It’s also important to select a meeting place. In the case of a fire, it’s the location where your whole family will gather so you know everyone is out safe.
Also make sure your children know the difference between “Stop, Drop and Roll,” and “Get Low and Go.”
“If there’s a fire in your house, you’re going to want to get out,” Scott said. “If there’s a fire on your clothes, you do ‘Stop, Drop and Roll,’ so you’re going to cover your face with your hands and then drop to the ground and roll. What you’re doing when you’re rolling is you’re extinguishing the flames. You’re depriving them of oxygen.”
“I encourage parents to be there and create a fire escape plan for their kids because it could be the difference between life and death,” added Scott.
“It’s better to be safe than sorry and it doesn’t take that long to just come up with something and talk about it real quick,” said Sara Meredith.
Residents of Tennessee can request a free smoke alarm from the State Fire Marshal’s Office.