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October 7, 2003

Deaf Kids Learn Fire Safety

From: WHNT, AL - Oct 7, 2003

Dianna Gee Reports,

(Decatur) Whatever the teachers say at Walter Jackson Elementary, Susan White interprets for the hearing impaired. So when local firefighters showed up to celebrate National Fire Prevention Week, she was glad to share the message.

"They could be home alone when there's a fire," says White. "Or a situation where people don't know they're deaf and there's a fire."

Lt. Darwin Clark with Decatur Fire and Rescue says it's important to teach kids fire safety tips on a regular basis. Repetition is the key.

"You can hand them a brochure or talk to them, but if you let them practice and go through the emotions, let them practice the skills, they learn much better," he says.

Inside the safety trailer, kids pretend to weather out a storm, prevent a kitchen fire, and escape a smoke-filled building. Outside, demonstrations show kids the importance of smoke detectors, extinguishers, and ladders. Afterwards, the students talk about what they learned.

Third grader Hillary is completely deaf. She interacts with her interpreter about the lesson. Susan White says deaf kids do have some advantage to fire detection.

"They would probably smell smoke before we would because their other senses are much more in tune," White says.

Hillary is nonverbal, but her teachers hope this lesson in fire safety will provide her with the actions that will speak louder than any word.

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