‘Safe at Home’ Graduates Gain Safety and Pride

Sheryl Watts

Sheryl Watts, a Safe at Home trainer for Prevention 1st, sees firsthand the positive effect the program has on individuals and their families

Recently she worked with Christopher, a young man who lives with his parents and was excited every week about what he was learning. And he loved sharing his knowledge, often saying at the end of his session with Sheryl: “I can’t wait for Dad to come home so I can teach him this!”

His excitement rose highest at the final session, when he was able to perform all the safety techniques he’d learned without prompting. When Sheryl told him he was officially graduated and would get a certificate, his reveled in his accomplishment:  “I can’t believe I did that!”

Safe at Home trainers all have a fire safety background. Sheryl also works full-time at Lifetime Assistance, where she is in charge of fire safety.  Each training starts with an assessment of any fire hazards in the home, and for this Sheryl often teams up with another trainer who has experience as a firefighter.

At the first session she also assesses the current fire safety knowledge of the person being trained.  Then in 30-45 minute in-home weekly sessions, Sheryl teaches them about cooking safety, identifying fire hazards, locating and testing smoke alarms, exiting when the alarm goes off, and calling 9-1-1. Each week the previous week’s lessons are also reviewed.

Training may last from 3 weeks to 8 weeks depending on the person’s knowledge at the beginning and how well they retain new knowledge. At the end of each of Christopher’s sessions, Sheryl talked about what he had learned with his mother, who worked with him between weekly sessions.

“Actually practicing the techniques is important,” explains Sheryl. “Christopher learned how to exit his bedroom safely if the alarm goes off:  test the door using the back of the hand, take a cell phone and shoes, and if the door is hot how to block smoke from under the door and go to the window to signal for help”.

Safe at Home is customized to the individual. Sheryl has worked with one young woman with autism who wasn’t very verbal.  So they made picture cards together and then used them as part of learning.

“I’d ask ‘There’s a noise going off, what could that be?’ And she’d point to the alarm, “ Sheryl explains.  “We’d lay out the cards in a sequence showing what might make the alarm go off—fire—and what we should do next—an exit.”

All of Sheryl’s trainees have one thing in common:  “They really want to learn, and to be safe.”

Seeing the sense of accomplishment they get from their achievements is very rewarding for Sheryl. So is their determination to apply what they’ve learned. For example, at the beginning of his training Christopher could find the smoke alarm but didn’t know how to test it. Sheryl demonstrated the test button and they discussed how important it is that the alarm is always working. Now Christopher is looking forward to testing those alarms–with his father–every month.

Win a Vacation, TV and More at the Golf Tournament

Even if you don’t golf, the Jane & Larry Glazer Memorial Golf Tournament to benefit Prevention 1st is the place to be September 16! Silent auction items available at the post-tournament dinner at Midvale Country Club include a trip to Hawaii, a 60-inch television, and golf packages for Irondequoit, Midvale, Brooklea and Seneca Hickory Stick golf courses.

Also at the dinner, the winner will be drawn from the raffle tickets now on sale for a trip for two to Hilton Head’s iconic Harbour Town Golf Club. All proceeds from raffle ticket sales will support the Prevention 1st Safe at Home scholarship fund, providing customized in-home safety training to people with developmental disabilities. Tickets for “dinner only” are available. Download the 2019 tournament brochure.

Please contact one of the following with questions or to register:
Jessica Holly (co-chair): jbdinaburg@gmail.com
Michael Chatwin (co-chair): mchatwin@logs.com
Jack Dinaburg: jackdinaburg@prevention1st.org, (585) 383-6505

Safe at Home a “Next Step” for Adults With Disabilities

Safe at Home, which provides in-home safety assessment and training to reduce the risks of fire and injury in the home, was introduced to many parents, caregivers, teens and adults with intellectual and development disabilities at the recent Next Steps conference sponsored by AutismUp. The conference focused on transitioning to an adult life and living more independently.

“The people who stopped by our booth said they had never encountered anything like Safe at Home before, and they seemed very impressed,” Safe at Home trainer Bob Crandall reported. “One person also thought it would be good for her elderly mother who still lives alone.”

Learn more about Safe at Home here.

Milwaukee Students Stay Safe With“Before the Fire”

All second-graders in Milwaukee Public Schools will be learning lessons from Prevention 1st’s Before the Fire: Prevention Works curriculum as part of their Learning Journeys.  The free program includes lesson plans with learning objectives, activities, and links to resources.

Learning Journeys are beyond-the-classroom learning experiences. As part of theirs, more than 5,000 second-graders from 133 elementary schools will attend the Milwaukee Fire Departments Education Center’s Survive Alive House.

“The lessons in Before the Fire: Prevention Works! will be excellent to use prior to and after their Learning Journey”, said Michelle Wade, Learning Journeys Coordinator.

The free Before the Fire program was created by educators and fire safety experts to provide effective fire safety lesson plans for teachers, preschool and day care providers, parents and caregivers  to teach children about fire, fire prevention, and escaping a fire.

Make This a Summer of Safety

In summer we all tend to kick back and relax the rules a bit. It’s a great time of year, but to keep it safe there are still a few rules worth keeping:

  1. Always watch children when they’re in or near water. Pool Safely, a campaign launched by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to reduce childhood drownings, recommends designating an adult Water Watcher to supervise children in the water, even where there’s also a lifeguard. Watching should be their only task – they shouldn’t be reading, texting or playing games on their phone.
  2. When swimming outside, get everyone out of the water if you hear thunder or see lightning.
  3. Looking for a game to keep young children occupied? Help Mikey Make It Out is a fun, interactive game that teaches life-saving home escape lessons. They can also read the storybook Mikey Makes a Mess online, in English or Spanish.
  4. Leave fireworks to the pros, even where they’re legal. Here’s why.
  5. While your fireplace isn’t getting used, call to schedule an annual chimney cleaning.
  6. As cooking moves outside, enforce a “3-Foot Rule” just as you do for the stove. Keep children and pets at least three feet from the fire.
  7. Summer is peak season for wildfires.  Check the predicted risk for the area where you live (or plan to visit) here, and always stay tuned to local weather and news.
  8. Find more tips about safe use of campfires, outdoor grills and firepits at flickitsafely.com.            
  9. Summer fun activities can get chaotic. To prevent falls, make sure you wipe up spills promptly, and remind everyone to pick up clutter, which can be a tripping hazard–especially toys. Get more fall prevention tips.
  10. Wear a bike helmet, and make sure you and your children know the rules of the road.

Find more tips on our Safety Resources page.

Rogoff Scholarship Available for High School Students With Plans to Prevent Injuries

Stephen Rogoff

In August 2018, the Rochester community experienced a sudden loss with the passing of Stephen D. Rogoff. Known for his compassion, humanity, and great ability to connect with others, Stephen was a tremendous friend to Prevention 1st.  He co-founded the organization’s first major fund raiser–a Golf Tournament held at Midvale Country Club in 2013—including recruiting a committee, approaching local businesses to donate prizes, and obtaining dozens of tee sponsors.

In honor and memory of the positive impact that Stephen Rogoff had on so many, his children — Scott, Brett and Robyn — along with their families and the Prevention 1st Board of Directors have established the Stephen and Arlayne Rogoff Scholarship Fund. Each year, $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to two recipients who best demonstrate Stephen’s empathetic and actionable character.  

How to Apply

The scholarship application requires an essay outlining the candidate’s personal experience with a preventable injury or in-home danger and their plans to generate awareness or educate others on such risks. For more information contact info@prevention1st.og.

Support this Scholarship 

If you should like to honor Stephen’s memory or support this scholarship with a donation, click here to make an online contribution. Mail checks, payable to Rochester Area Community Foundation (with Rogoff Scholarship in the Memo Line) to 500 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607.

Poster Contest Winner Pays It Forward

When third-grader Audrey Mathews won first prize for her age group in the Prevention 1st 2018/19 Fire Safety Poster Contest, she knew exactly what she wanted to do with her $50 prize money: she donated it to support her school district’s therapy dog.

Audrey’s parents say she has a love of service and therapy animals because they help keep people calm in emergencies. Audrey’s winning poster delivers a crucial message about responding when the smoke alarm goes off:  “Don’t scream, don’t shout, keep calm and get out.”

As part of Audrey’s prize, her classroom at Scribner Road Elementary School also received a $200 gift certificate for art supplies.

Click here to see all the winning posters.

Other good things coming from the Fire Safety Poster Contest: a ride to school on a fire truck for poster artist Fiston Heca and his sister.

New Smoke Alarms Help, But They’re Not a Cure-All

You still have to provide other pieces of the safety puzzle.

test your smoke alarm
Even smoke alarms with long-life batteries need testing.

Fire departments and injury prevention organizations like Prevention 1st are celebrating the upcoming implementation of New York State’s new smoke alarm requirements.  As of April 1, all smoke alarms sold in New York must have a 10-year, sealed, non-removable battery, which will undoubtedly prevent a significant number of fire deaths and serious injuries.

While most fires happen during the day, most fatal fires occur at night.  Having even one working smoke alarm in your home reduces the chance of dying in a fire by more than half.  It is difficult to find a more effective, accessible and affordable prevention tool, which is why most states require them in the first place.  Yet people still die in fires on a regular basis.  Why? 

Missing or dead batteries!  Well-meaning people, annoyed by the sound of a dying battery, or by one that is doing its job around a smoky kitchen or steamy bathroom, take out the battery.  So do people who are in immediate “need” of a battery for a remote control or other device.  Regardless of reason, most people have every intention of replacing that battery, but just don’t get around to it, with sometimes tragic consequences.

Ten-year smoke alarms, with long-life batteries that are sealed into the unit, will make a big difference in improving safety.  But there are a few things New Yorkers need to know before they install their new ones and forget about them for a decade.

Test your smoke alarm regularly.  Long-life batteries are just that – but “long life” may not be ten years.  Batteries can and do fail, so continue to test them once a month.

Keep it free of dirt and dust.  Alarms are sensitive and finely tuned; like any appliance, they work better when clean!  Use a vacuum hose or duster to remove damaging dirt.

Be ready to replace it before ten years is up.  A 2008 CDC-commissioned study found that after ten years, 78% of smoke alarms with lithium batteries were that were installed through a public outreach program were still operational.  That leaves 22% that were not.  Keep testing!

Don’t forget the other pieces of the safety puzzle.  The time to figure out who is helping children or elderly relatives escape from fire is not the middle of the night with alarms going off and smoke filling your home.  Develop an exit plan with your family and practice it at least twice a year!

The new smoke alarms, while slightly more expensive, will be well worth the cost in lives saved and injuries prevented.  But they are not a cure-all, and taking a few additional steps will help make your home and your family that much safer.

This article also appeared as an op-ed piece by Prevention 1st president Molly Clifford in the March 23,2019 issue of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

Prevention 1st Fire Safety Poster Contest Winners Announced!

Congratulations to our 1st Place Winners in each category:
Rishaan Shah, Kindergarten, Scribner Road Elementary School
Audrey Mathews, 3rd grade, Scribner Road Elementary School
Julia Thomas, 5th grade, St. Joseph School

Honorable mentions go to:
Hyoju Noh, Kindergarten, Cobbles Elementary School
Adaya Sykes, 3rd grade, Sykes Family Homeschool
Addison Zimmerman, 4th grade, Abelard Reynolds School #42

See all the winning posters here.

And congratulations to fifth-grader Fiston Heca, the lucky winner of a random drawing of all poster artists, who will get a ride on a firetruck to Abelard Reynolds School #42, courtesy of the Rochester Fire Department!

Prevention 1st would like to thank this year’s judges for their work in choosing this year’s winners from more than 200 entries from across the County: New York State Senator Joe Robach, Monroe County Fire Coordinator Steve Schalabba, Rochester Fire Marshal Christine Schryver, and the Memorial Art Gallery Education Director Marlene Hamman-Whitmore.

Posters were judged on both artistic merit and the impact of its fire safety message. All participants will receive a certificate and all posters will be displays at the following locations around the city and county during March:

Rochester Public Library Children’s Center (winners and honorable mentions)
Monroe County Office Building
Rochester City Hall
Greater Rochester International Airport
Rochester Museum and Science Center
Eastview Mall The Mall at Greece Ridge
Canandaigua National Bank
Eastside Family YMCA