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Effectiveness of fire safety education in primary school children
conference contributionposted on 2004-01-01, 00:00 authored by Lata SatyenLata Satyen, M Barnett, A Sosa
Young children have been identified as a high-risk group in relation to fire-related deaths because of their limited ability to understand the intinsic dangers of fire, to foresee the consequences of playing with fire, or to manage a fire if it were to become out of control. Children are also not equipped to respond in a meaningful way in the event of a fire. It is therefore essential that fire safety education be imparted to children in an effective manner so as to equip them to deal with a fire efficiently. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the 'Fire Ed' program conducted by the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade for primary school children to determine whether exposure to the curriculum will influence children's knowledge of fire safety behaviours. Although the program has numerous positive features, its overall effectivenedd has not been evaluated. It was hypothesised that: a) children will not be aware of essential fire safety information prior to attending the 'Fire Ed' program, and b) children will display a significant gain in fire safety knowledge after participation in the program. Sixty children from six primary schools participated in the study and they were tested on their level of fire safety knowledge prior to and after partcipation in the 'Fire Ed' program. Results show that the children's knowledge of fire safety procedures improved significantly after participation in the program when tested after three weeks, however, when their knowledge was examined after five weeks, a significant decline was seen. The findings show that regular evaluations of fire safety programs are required and that they could be improved by considering the different stages of cognitive development in children.