All fired up for safety lessons
THE STAR, May 16

The children tottered sleepily into Amcorp Mall in Petaling Jaya on a lazy Sunday morning expecting a tumble in the playpen or a sinful brunch with ice cream perhaps, but their parents had other plans for them.

About 30 children and their parents took part in a half-day workshop on fire safety and prevention by the Malaysian Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.

Some of the parents had already attended fire training by the association at their offices and so were eager to enroll their children in the Fire kids Club Safety Workshop. Others who were there to shop found out about the event and promptly signed up their young ones as well.

Fire Safety education among children has become crucial as parents, especially those who leave their young children with babysitters or maids, realize its importance in view of recent deaths of children in fires.

However, the workshop wasn't at all a serious classroom-type training for kids. Association chairman Capt. K. Balasupramaniam who moderated the workshop made learning fun and exciting for the eager participants.

They were taught the dangers of starting fires without parental supervision, how to extinguisher a fire if their clothes caught fire by rolling on the floor, and how to light matches the right way.

Balasupramaniam said the drop-and-roll technique was effective when someone's clothes caught fire. "If we run with our clothes on fire, the fire will spread. So what we have to do is drop on the floor and roll until the fire is put out," he told his attentive young audience.

They also learnt how to escape from a burning house and react when firemen came to rescue them as well as to make emergency phone calls.

Balasupramaniam said in the absence of their parents, children might panic at the first sight of fire and act on instinct by hiding under the bed or in the cupboard.

"This is tragic! We are therefore undertaking the task of training the young on the basic steps of fire safety," he added.

The workshop is a children's fire safety programme started by the association in and has successfully trained more than 5,300 children in Penang, Kedah, Malacca. The association plans to train 20,000 to 25,000 children by and spread its activities and workshops throughout Malaysia, particularly to the smaller town.

T. Ayyavu and Navaratnam Thangavelu from Klang brought their 11-year old son, Dinesh, and his cousins as they felt the workshop was important.

"Balasupramaniam had trained some of us in my factory and when he hold me about this workshop, I got the kids to attend" said Ayyavu.

"We are both working and we leave our children at home with the babysitter, so we can rest a litter easier knowing that our son has learnt how to take care of himself in case of such emergencies," he added.

As for housewife Trach Ng from Cheras, who had not been to the mall for a long time until that morning, she was pleasantly surprised when heard about the workshop from one of the volunteers.

"Of cause I registered Edward immediately...he needs to learn about this," she said of her 10-year old son.


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