Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials, the Virgin Islands Fire Department, the Virgin Islands Territory Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA), and the National Commission on Children and Disasters are announcing a new joint public awareness campaign to help keep children and families safer from the threat of home fires.
As part of this effort, FEMA's U.S. Fire Administration released a new report on the risks fires pose to children. It reveals that there is a growing risk of death or serious injury in home fires and young children are most vulnerable. Fifty two percent of all child fire deaths in 2007 involved children under the age of four, a slight increase from a 2004 study.
"Fires are one of the most common emergencies, but are preventable. FEMA encourages Virgin Islanders to follow simple steps to avoid fires, such as doing fire drills at home and have a family emergency plan to help save lives and property," said Alejandro De La Campa, FEMA's Region II Caribbean Area Division Director.
Furthermore, Virgin Islanders should take notice that according to the latest report, boys are at higher-risk of dying from fires than girls; and between 2006 and 2008, smoke alarms were not present in at least 23 percent of residential fires.
"Everyone is at risk! Fire safety awareness must begin at early childhood. What they learn today will determine their wellness tomorrow and for years to come. Join our campaign in promoting pre-planning and proactive measures in your homes while raising our children," said Andre Smith, Virgin Islands Fire Department Chief. "It is imperative that all families have an evacuation and fire safety plan, and actually practice utilizing plan. This will ensure that each family member would know what to do and where to meet in case of a fire or other emergencies."
"We encourage families across the Territory to protect children, our most vulnerable population, by having a family emergency plan; that is in fact the first step in being prepared in the event a fire does occurs," said Elton Lewis, Director of the Virgin Islands Territory Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA). "Families must also practice the plan regularly and ensure children know exactly what they need to do to keep themselves safe," he added.
FEMA has launched online and social media tools at
to give families key tips on fire safety and other resources. You can also join FEMA on Twitter by using the hashtag #kidsfiresafety or follow the agency on Facebook at