Barwick youths win provincial fire safety draw

Submitting a grid drawing to their local fire department of a home escape plan in the event of a fire has paid off big time for two Barwick youths.
Josh Whalen, 13, and Josh Zimmerman, six, were among 12 children from across the province who recently had their names picked in a random draw for prizes in “The Great Escape,” which was sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association and the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Public Safety Council.
Whalen, a student at Sturgeon Creek School, won $500 while Zimmerman, who attends Our Lady of the Way in Stratton, was awarded a “Toronto Blue Jays” package, including an autographed bat from first baseman Carlos Delgado.
The boys’ home escape plans, along with those from three other students, had been forwarded by Chapple Fire Chief Larry Hunsperger after his department promoted Fire Prevention Week in the classroom.
He presented the prizes at a special ceremony at Sturgeon Creek School last Friday–one year to the day after a fire had destroyed Whalen’s family home.
Connie Whalen said her son’s participation in “The Great Escape” had been a no-nonsense project for him, and it even helped the whole family learn valuable lessons about getting out in the event of a fire.
“When Josh was drawing the escape plan out, he was really quite serious about it,” she said Monday. “Before our [fire], we had never talked about an escape [route] and now we practice one.
“Now we know the right way to go about it instead of panicking and breaking things like doors trying to get out,” she noted.
“The Great Escape” teaches families to plan two ways out of every room in the house, agree on a meeting place in front of the home, practise the escape plan twice a year, and install smoke detectors on every level of the home, especially in or near all sleeping areas.
It also urges people to test their smoke detectors once a month, and replace the batteries each year.