Speed, strategy critical for children to escape burning building

Survive Alive trains 9,000 children each year

INDIANAPOLIS - How hard is it to get out of a burning building quickly? A powerful lesson thousands of children get each year brings the point home.

The Indianapolis Fire Department took Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney and three kindergartners inside its Survive Alive house to show a visual lesson in why getting out of a burning structure quickly is so important and how it's not easily done.

Kenney is working on a special report, airing Thursday at 11:00, about fire safety at Indiana day cares.

"A fire doubles in size every 30 seconds to a minute," said Capt. Aleatha Henderson, director of public education for the Indianapolis Fire Department. "You don't have as much time as you think."

Escaping quickly is of utmost importance for children, whether they're at home, school, or day care.

"The younger the child is, they have a tendency to want to hide," said Henderson. "We teach them never to hide."

When a room is smoke-free, it's easy to find a way out, but when a room fills with smoke, things like illuminated exit signs and emergency lights become crucial tools for escaping.

"All those things play an intricate part of being able to evacuate, knowing which way to go and where the exits are," said Henderson.

Blocked exits can make it impossible to get out.

"The smoke can be so thick, you can literally not see your hand in front of your face," said Henderson. "If you can't see that far, you would not see an obstacle in your way."
 
Working smoke detectors in a building are also crucial, Henderson said.

"Those things are just so important when you're talking about escaping a fire that rapidly grows every second," said Henderson.

IFD used a fog machine rather than real smoke.

"It gives them a sense of reality. It makes it real to them," said Henderson.

Getting down low on the floor, below the smoke, is always key for kids, whether they're at day care, school or at home.

The Survive Alive house trains 9,000 children a year.

It's a visual reminder that fire drills, evacuation plans and just practicing how to get out can make a big difference during an emergency.

"The whole goal is to save lives," said Henderson.

Watch Thursday on the News at 11:00 on RTV6 as Kenney confronts day cares that violated fire safety codes, including issues that can make it difficult for children to get out during a fire.

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