Fire vs. Predator: Which Does Society Protect Kids From?

Hi Folks! I found this story fascinating, in how starkly it prioritizes our fears.  — L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: I recently had a conversation with a firefighter that stopped me in my tracks and I wanted to share it with you.

I was writing a story about how to do a home fire drill for our local paper. Here’s my article. For the story, a firefighter came to my home and taught us about fire safety and even helped us conduct our own fire drill.

In the course of interviewing him, I asked him about the red reflective circles that we all used to have on our bedroom windows in the ’70s and ’80s — remember those? — to alert firefighters there might be children in those rooms. “Why don’t we have those anymore?” I asked.

He hemmed and hawed for a minute before he responded something to the effect that “society” anymore doesn’t really approve of those. “Society?” I was thinking. “What part of society could object to notifying firefighters where children sleep…?”

Aha. It sunk into my thick (Free-Range reinforced) skull: By having red stickers in kids’ bedroom windows, we would be advertising to all predators that a child lives in this house!

Of course, there is no other way for a predator to know where a child lives. The chalk designs on the sidewalk, the bikes in the garage, nevermind all the comings and goings of the family. None of those communicate that there are children as much as that red dot in the window. Why, predators would be lining up — or climbing in!

Now, given that more than 90% of child sexual abuse cases and more than 95% of child abduction cases involve someone the child knows — many of whom are family members — most predators not only know where the child lives, but also where she sleeps.

The firefighter told me that those red dots were helpful back in the day, showing firefighters where to put their ladders to track down children as quickly as possible. But “society” has chosen to protect us from potential boogey men instead of fires. Has it made the right choice? — Emily Mulligan, mom of 2, Lawrence, Kansas

No it hasn’t! Although for the record, those red things always did pose one other  question for me: How many of us remove them when our kids grow up and leave? I’d hate to think of a firefighter risking his life for an outdated red circle. But anyway, point well taken: Fear of abduction trumps common sense, and safety. — L.

But at least no predators got in!

57 Responses

  1. I just noticed one of those stickers the other day, but it was the pet edition – “we have 2 cats and 3 dogs”. I guess it’s safe to tell firefighters to save our pets, but not our children.

  2. Some places still have them. My sister has a sticker on the front door window saying there are 2 children and 2 dogs in the house. The kids windows have stickers on them.

    When people question it, she asks them how many people they personally know were kidnapped by strangers from their beds. Then she asks them how many people do they personally know who have had house fires. Guess which number is ALWAYS higher.

    (She knows they know one because our father was severely burned by a kitchen fire when she was 1 and I was 5.)

    BTW – She does update the stickers.They used to say 3 children and 2 dogs. Older niece is an adult at university – so sis had them updated a couple of years ago. Both younger kids know to go out their windows and run to the neighbor’s tree and hug it, if the smoke alarm goes off. They are not to even try their bedroom doors. (1st floor easy easy to get out the window.)

  3. I thought it was because it’s not very stylish and community boards voted to have them removed. Don’t want to drive down home values! “It is better to look good then to feel good.”

  4. I think of lot of this boogeyman stuff was started and inadvertently fueled by John Walsh. He’s a good man who suffered a terrible tragedy with his son – and he’s done some very good things in his work. But the unfortunate side effect has been to help scare every one that the bad man is everywhere.

  5. Kimberly – do you kow where one can buy those stickers?

  6. Actually, I was told by a firefighter that they don’t use those stickers anymore for exactly the reason you mention, Leonore. Firefighters were putting themselves at risk trying to save kids in marked rooms when the children moved out years earlier.

  7. Decided to look online for decals myself and found a few, but I also found this from Kearny, Nebraska:

    “The Fire Department does not promote the use of window decals. They can give a resident a false sense of security and firefighters the wrong indication of where to look for children.

    Window decals can also signal an area of vulnerability in the home, which could put children or your home at risk from late night intruders.

    How many homes now have window decals indicating windows of children that are no longer using that room? Children may have moved to another room in the home or grown up and moved away. If this is the case, the Fire Department requests you to remove them.”

  8. I worry a whole hell of a lot more about fire than danger from strangers. My family was woken from sleep on the morning on December 1, 2010 to the smoke detectors going off. By the time we ran out of the house (in PJ’s and shoeless) it was already full of black, toxic smoke and there was an orange fireball blooming in the basement.

    If you want to worry about something, make sure you have smoke detectors in every level of your home and check several times a year that they are working. And for the love of God, don’t pull out the batteries because they go off when you’re cooking.

    Smoke spreads and kills faster than you can imagine. If we hadn’t run out of the house as quickly as we did, we would have died that morning.

    (Sorry to hijack your post, Lenore!)

  9. I agree completely with Brooks about the “Adam Walsh” effect, and I have to say, I laughed out loud at the picture & the caption. (No “LOL,” I don’t use nor believe in the usage of such acronyms.) That may be the best picture/caption I’ve seen here yet.

    LRH

  10. This ‘but it shows that children live here!’ meshuggas is at least one that hasn’t visited the UK yet. The complete lack of sense to it has never failed to astound me.

  11. Late night intruders. Hah, like there are so many of THOSE running around?

  12. […] post:  Fire vs. Predator: Which Does Society Protect Kids From … Posted in Online Predators Tags: bedroom-windows, having-red, house, other-way, sunk-into, thick […]

  13. LJCohen, what a scary experience. That is why I set out to write the article for the paper to begin with — linked to in my letter. I learned a lot writing that article, most notably how important smoke detectors are. I hope everyone will take a minute to check their smoke alarms, if not at least doing a fire drill with their family.

  14. For the most part, those stickers predate the nearly universal use of smoke detectors. My neice’s husband says that they don’t usually pay much attention to them for the mentioned reasons, but also because many more people make it out of the house and there isn’t any kid there to search for. People usually tell them where to look or where anybody not accounted for is sleeping.

  15. I wonder how the “I am superparent and can keep my kids safe from anything” mentality impairs people from both letting their kids grow up, but also from having regular fire drills where kids are actually expected and trained in good judgement?

  16. Yes, the predators/intruders thing is beyond stupid, but I’ve always thought those decals had their own problems. Besides the kids growing up and moving out or changing rooms, what about a child who’s away for the night? Do we risk a firefighter’s life over a misleading decal? Or what about a room that’s not normally occupied but has a child sleeping in there the night of the fire (guest room, or kid “camping out,” or whatever.) Then the firefighters conclude that there’s no one there to look for. OOps. And what about an *adult* who may be incapacitated in a bedroom? That matters less?

  17. “Window decals can also signal an area of vulnerability in the home, which could put children or your home at risk from late night intruders.”

    Ridiculous. Anyone can already see it is a window, and having broken windows accidentally as a child, I very much doubt a window is going to stop someone that intends to get in.

    Breaking in through a bedroom would be the silliest place to break in anyway; whomever is in the bedroom is sure to hear or otherwise notice and scream. An intruder’s best bet for my house would be to come in through the bathroom – anyone that hears a noise from there is going to assume it’s another family member – and then making their way to the bedroom of whomever they wish to intrude on. I’m sure there is an intruder tracking down where I live via my IP to try this very tactic now.

  18. Ok, this has nothing to do with this post but I have to put it somewhere because my blood is boiling and all the other parents I know are helicoptering types.

    We live in a large village in Norfolk, UK. My boys are 6, 4 and 2. I can’t drive so we either take the bus or we walk, which has the pleasant side effect that we know our local area, talk to at least some of our neighbours and the boys have had road safety drummed into their little heads ever since they were big enough to be in the pushchair. The 6 year old goes to school in the next village, about 2 miles away, and we go there and back on the bus. When we get off the bus, the 6 year old and the four year old like to “race” the bus. It’s a distance of about 20 m, along a pavement wide enough for 3 adults to walk side by side comfortably and it’s tarmac, not slabs, so even with no trip hazards. Anyway, as we got off the bus this afternoon, the driver told the boys that they must not race the bus anymore because it is “dangerous” and he had got into trouble about it.

    So now running along a fairly wide, even pavement through a village where it is not even possible to do more than 20 mph is now a dangerous activity.

    I said, very mildly, to the driver, “They stay on the pavement,” to which he said, “But if they fell you would blame me!” My kids fall over all the time!! That’s life!!! I didn’t really know what to say, then the driver said, “I don’t want to run them over if they fall in the road.” Fair enough I suppose, but they keep away from the road (telling them everytime we go out has paid off) and if they fell, surely it would be onto their hands, knees, faces, ie forwards. They are not going to to do some kind of ninja style jump mid trip and land in the road under the bus.

    Then, to really get up my nose, I saw a gas guzzling 4×4 full of teenaged children being driven home from high school. Hence I am gnashing my teeth.

    I do not let my boys do anything actually dangerous. Crash hats have to be worn for scootering, seat belts are worn in the car and bleach is not for drinking. But running? Seriously???

    People round here would freak out if they knew half the things I let my kids do, and I have been challenged about letting them do perfectly safe things like run on ahead while I’m still getting the pushchair out of the house. I just wish there was some kind of support group round here so that other people could join me in sticking two fingers up at the rest of the non free range world.

    I’m going to calm myself down with a mug of irn bru now. 🙂

    Sorry this has nothing to do with fire safety.

  19. Eek. This is pointing out a place where I am very much lacking in educating my family. Does anybody know where I could download information on how to create a fire safety plan and drills and stuff like that?

    As a side note, LRH, if you want to be a language purist, you should know that LOL is not technically an acronym; it’s an initialism. Acronyms can be pronounced, like SCUBA and RADAR. 😛 But, better would be to view Stephen Fry’s “Language.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7E-aoXLZGY

  20. Interesting point about the stickers remaining long after useful. I moved out of my childhood house in 1984. In 2000, I paid a visit to my old neighborhood and noticed the totfinder sticker still in the window of my old bedroom. Granted, the current residents may have had a child in that same room, but I think it was just stuck there for good.

  21. Preachestochoirs, besides all that, the overwhelming majority of burglars would rather do ANYTHING than risk a confrontation with a child or adult that could turn out badly. The only person I could think of who would deliberately find a part of the house known to contain a child to be a GOOD place to break in, would be an actual child stealth predator, which are EXTREMELY rare. You take all those stats for how rare stranger abductions are, and remove all the ones that happened in broad daylight or outside the home or with a conscious child, and you get a tiny, tiny number. There was one case here in my town a few years ago of a child snatched from a crib at night by a stranger, and the child was killed, and it was horrific. But it’s one of the rarest of all crimes. It’s absolutely not something you should adjust a single otherwise useful practice to account for.

    And the typical aggressively violent “home invader” (as opposed to stealth burglar) is looking for an adult to threaten, so the sticker’s not bait for him, either.

  22. I’m glad to see people thinking about fire safety in addition to this window-decal discussion. That’s the reason I set out to write the article that’s linked in my letter above. A local family of 9 escaped a fast-moving house fire because they had practiced fire drills at home. I wrote the article to help others do fire drills of their own. Check it out, and I hope it’s helpful to you.

    Also, local fire stations have informative brochures that address a variety of fire concerns and are a great starting point for discussing fire safety in the home. One example of a tip: De-cluttering your house is important in fire prevention.

  23. Real purists don’t draw attention to their purity at every opportunity, let alone making opportunities just so they can draw attention to it. 😉

  24. Fire safety, smoke detectors, and fire drills are covered in every single year in the cub scout program. My kids have had to draw escape routes, practice drills, and help change the batteries in the detector. One way that we practiced drills was to have them get ready for school a few minutes earlier, then go back to playing, whatever. Then we set off the alarm and had a drill. They got to practice getting out safely from wherever they were and meeting at the correct location. And then, they were ready to greet the bus when it arrived. When we actually did have a small oven fire that we had to call the fire department for, everyone knew what to do, and we were out of the house in less than a minute. Totally worth the time!

  25. Michelle If it is true that LOL is an “initialism” and RADAR is an “acronym,” I stand corrected on the distinction. Assuming that is the correct interpretation, then my reply would be I’m fine with acronyms but hideously disagree with initialisms, especially the “Internet/texting slang” terms such as “DS” (dear son) and “ur” and so on. Further, I disagree wholeheartedly with Stephen Fry’s assertions as well, especially the one of “there is no such thing as wrong or correct language.” There certainly is “informal vs formal,” and there is wrong usage and spelling. When someone times “its time to go home,” that’s wrong, so is the reverse of this “The dog wagged it’s tail” ; when someone says “your in my way,” that’s wrong.

    To me, people should take more pride in having somewhat accurate spelling & grammar. I’m not referring to slang “what trips me up” or “I think that’s just whack,” but things such as “your late for work” or “the cat likes it’s food” etc. Sure a couple of misuses here & there is one thing, I sure don’t get all of it correct myself. Further, I don’t go out of my way to beat someone over the head with it personally either. However, conceptually speaking, I totally abhore such “lazy-isms” (someone using a somewhat made-up word like “lazy-isms”, especially when they quotation mark it to drive home the point that it’s a “made-up” word, that’s fine) when it’s done on purpose. I feel this way especially since “back in my day” we would’ve had our papers flunked in typing class for such things, even with us having to use “Kor-ect-Type” (or whatever) or “white out” or even type an entire page over so as to not have such sloppiness. Now with word processing and spell-checkers built into free web browsers, why shouldn’t people strive to do better? If it’s not important to them, well to be blunt, that’s lazy. (Some may say I am to “initialisms” & such as Marie Barone {from “Everybody Loves Raymond”} is to housekeeping.)

    Anyway.

    Returning to the original topic–it is true what Lenore says, society often-times really has misplaced priorities about what’s safe and what kids need protecting from. The whole “in this day & age, things aren’t like they used to be” is also misused a lot. Besides people suggesting predators all of a sudden started existing the past 20-odd years, what really makes me laugh and shake my head is when they don’t let their kids play in the woods because, to them, “nowadays, with all the snakes and bears and poison ivy,”–what, those things didn’t exist at all 20 years ago? Bears, deer, snakes, poison ivy, etc–you mean to tell me such things never existed in the woods for all time until 20-odd years ago, they just suddenly sprung up–like spontaneous combustion?

    Oh please.

    LRH

  26. My daughter came home with a sticker that was for her bedroom door, with instructions NOT to put it in the window. I thought the same thing as you express in this article. You can buy a sticker to tell the firefighters about your pets, but not your kids. Guess we all have our priorities straight around here!

    I would be interested in the stickers as well Kimberly, if you could post where you got yours.

  27. Oh and PS–I admit it, I goofed. “When someone TIMES?” How about “when someone TYPES.” Ugh! Go ahead, scold me, I deserve it, ha ha. (I still refuse to use “LOL” hence the “ha ha,” but seriously, I won’t scold anyone by name for doing it, I’m just saying conceptually and topically speaking I’m not hot on the practice. I’m not trying to ruffle any feathers, & my apologies if I come across as trying to do exactly that.)

    LRH

  28. Sorry if over-posting, but I wanted to observe something Becky pointed out, and expand on it further (or is that farther, ha ha–I asked for it didn’t I).

    I have absolutely observed, whether it’s in the media depictions, 10 pm news, or people’s attitude in general, an exaggerated sense of the importance of animals, especially where it regards animals vs human-beings. Every movie I see where, say, a house catches on fire, they always stress the importance of saving the dog “wait for Fluffy! We can’t leave him behind!” and of course when “Fluffy” comes out and everyone is relieved, the relief they express regarding that is far greater than the relief expressed when, um, the kids or the spouse makes it out okay.

    Whenever the news reports on someone having shot a neighbor’s dog, they NEVER elaborate on whether or not the dog owner was failing to control the dogs’ behavior with regards to noise pollution via barking, or if the dog was trespassing on the shooter’s land & scaring their livestock or ransacking the garbage etc, and maybe the shooting neighbor had endured enough and did what he/she needed to do to protect their interests from a loose animal released into the neighborhood courtesy of a neglectful owner. Instead the neglectful owner is depicted as having endured something terribly awful at the hands of a maniac in the neighborhood, when maybe the “maniac” was simply a fed-up neighbor who had enough; in such cases, the dog owner is the one who should be spotlighted as having been the problem all along. But “noooooooo,” (I did that on purpose, hence the quotes), it’s never spoken of that way.

    In the past I’ve had neighbors fail to control their dogs & the dogs came onto my yard and was bothering me & the kids, and when my own dog chased it off (but without hurting it), the neighbors were yelling “leave my dog alone.” Um, maybe you should try keeping your dog off of my land maybe? But no, it’s all about the animal, even when I’m merely shooing it away & nothing more.

    I don’t know when this country got so misaligned with a sense of the value of life and that human life matters more than animal life, but yes it’s everywhere anymore. Me: I have a dog, but no way do I consider my dog to be even 1 millionth of a percent as important as even a casual acquaintance, much less my wife and children and close friends. Sure, animals don’t judge you as humans do, they don’t care if you’re poor or rich, or if you call them names, but that’s because they’re too STUPID to know any better. Don’t get me wrong, they can be a wonderful addition to someone’s life, but equal in importance to human life they most certainly are NOT.

    LRH

  29. Sis is out of town – but I’m pretty sure she got them from the Village FD or the Houston FD. You could make your own. I’ve purchased static sticker sheets that go through a desk jet printer. to make stickers for my classroom door.

  30. Brooks makes a pretty good point. And television has helped propel it along. I for one don’t conform to societies fears. I do what I feel is best for my kid. Not what society feels is best. And not even what’s best for ME. I’m a full grown confident man, who has seen and experienced many things since I was a kid myself. There is no worries for me about me. And I’m raising my child the same way, so that I don’t have to worry about him either. Now I don’t, or rather he doesn’t have those reflective stickers on his window (I didn’t when I was a child). But if he did, I wouldn’t fear for him, and I certainly wouldn’t be swayed by “society”, even if they did wear some type of badge.

  31. LRH…you got it right with further. Farther is more in respect to physical distance. While further is figuratively speaking of distance. But also means in addition to. 🙂

  32. And to comment on your post about pets, specifically dogs. Much more often than not, the behavior of the dog is indicative of the behavior and mentality of the owner. As Cesar Milan says, “it’s not the dog, it’s the owner”. At the same time too, that philosophy can easily be translated for parents and their children. After all, at an early age, children learn their behavior. And who other than their parents do they associate with at such a young age? Even if the parents aren’t directly teaching them these behavior, they notice them, and learn to mimic. We often hear parents saying “where did you learn that from?!”, and the mother or father says “oops, he must have seen/heard me when I was…”. Ok. My bad for veering off topic. lol 😉

  33. When we moved into our new house I noticed one of those signs on the front and back doors alerting fire fighters of our pets. So I guess we can warn potential burglers to bring a steak to pacify the dog (like the “stuff” in the yard doesn’t alert them) but heaven forbid we tell professionals how to get our children out of the house safely in case of a fire (which is more likely to occur than someone breaking into their bedroom windows to molest them)!

  34. @Anna – what a pain! It’s probably interfering nuisances in gas-guzzlers who’ve noticed the fun your kids and the bus driver have been having, and have reported him. You can’t possibly have fun these days. Yes, people do fall under buses – it happened to another 14-year old the same year as I was 14 (different college) and you can bet we mainly busroll kids stopped pushing each other around at the bus stops for a while – but such accidents are relatively rare, and on a wide footpath at 20 mph? You have my sympathies…..Kids are far more likely to be bowled on the footpath by those same twits in 4WDs applying their make-up or arguing with their teens.

    As for the fire stickers, I have never heard of those. They sound like a great idea. As for the safety of firemen, which is of course very important, I thought they were required to clear each room in the house anyway, ‘in case’? My father was a rural (i.e. volunteer) firefighter, and I’m pretty sure that was required, so a sticker on the room of a child not currently in residence wouldn’t have been a big deal. Actually where we lived at the time stickers would have been redundant, as it was a small (probably tiny by US standards) place, and the firemen generally knew who lived in what house and roughly who slept in each room. Some of them slept in more than one house themselves, LOL – gotta love small towns!

  35. LRH – It’s Wite Out.

  36. Excuse me, Wite-Out. I forgot the hyphen.

  37. And on another topic altogether, just had to share that there is hope for the world yet, and also that I can see why Samoans make such great rugby and league players. It was a beautiful autumn evening last night, and I walked to Guides with the girls (I have to go, as I’m the leader, actually way behind the girls, as I was running late!) . On the corner of our street is a set of flats, and the corner flat has a small ‘low fenced’-in front yard. In that yard were 7 of the most gorgeous little kids, aged between 2 and 4 (mostly 4ish), mainly boys, and they were sharing six little rugby balls, running around the yard and cross-throwing them to each other. I could hear the parents all out the back somewhere chatting, but not hovering over the kids. A gate ensured the kids weren’t going anywhere…..What a wonderful way for kids to spend their time, with friends/cousins, and away from the TV set. No obesity in their future, I bet.

  38. @hineata, you’re right. Once inside, firefighters are trained to do primary and secondary searches of the entire structure, not just the rooms marked by stickers. And they are not, as far as I know, trained to save victims in reverse order of age.

  39. I like the idea of doing fire drills at home. My daughter had one as homework early in the school year this year. She had to write a bit about it and draw up escape routes. Good way to get kids thinking about it while working on other skills.

  40. LRH, you didn’t ruffle my feathers. I find this type of discussion interesting, and I hope it’s not bothering anyone else.

    Fry’s rant was not about mistakes so much as slang, made up words, and evolving usage. I admit that sometimes I find new usage that irks me (for example, in a certain online community it has become common to use the term “crack theory” to mean the exact opposite of its actual meaning, because the commenters associated it with “crackhead.”) But, as Fry mentioned, the creation of new words and changed usage of old words is part of the essential evolution of language, and ought to be part of the enjoyment of language.

    If you can’t stand nonsense / invented words and phrases, you’d better stay away from Shakespeare and T.S. Elliot. And, for that matter, Joseph Heller (“catch 22”), Edward Lear (“runcible”), Lewis Carroll (“chortle,” among others), Jane Austen (“dinner party”), J.R.R. Tolkien (“tween,” believe it or not), James Joyce (“quark”), William Gibson (“cyberspace”), Isaac Asimov (“robotics”), Dr. Suess (“nerd”), George Orwell (“doublethink” and “newspeak”), John Milton (“liturgical,” “debauchery,” “didactic, “complacency,” and 626 others)… Come to think of it, your reading list might become very limited.

    As far as initialisms, I think I have confused you further. Acronyms and initialisms are both abbreviations formed from the initial components in a phrase or a word. Acronyms are just pronounceable. So, FBI would be an initialism, whereas NATO would be an acronym. Internet slang and text-speak sometimes contains initialisms and acronyms, but they aren’t necessarily the same.

    Um, I think my language geek is hanging out. (“Geek” is another word coined by an author, William Lindsay Gresham, in 1947.) Can you tell that my original aspiration, before I became a homeschool mom, was to be an English teacher? 😀

  41. Michelle Glad we could discuss it. My dislike revolves around shortcuts such as “b/c” and “DH” (dear husband) those to me aren’t the same as ones like DVD or NASA, which I have no issues with. The other involves mistakes that seem to be becoming accepted, such as “your right” (vs you’re) and “the dog wagged it’s tail” (vs its).

    Sometimes we overlook things when in a hurry, & most of us don’t know EVERY rule (dangling participles etc) but when I see blatant ones becoming tolerated and the pointing out of the mistake, even when done gently, to be considered “intolerant,” that is where it upsets me. I thrive in the element & thought that 2+2 =4 and that such is indisputable fact, that you don’t play with standards of that type, you learn it & adhere to it. To me “diversity” is a dirty word anymore, outside of free-range parenting & diversity amongst how different parents parent their children.

    LRH

  42. i am not a parent. i am a baby boomer who was, for various good and bad reasons, raised as a freerange kid. long story short, i taught myself how to read. i taught myself how to swim. etc.

    i just found you and i wanted to let you know i am completely stunned, and have been for 20 years, by your generation of parents, and by the idea you were the worst mother in the world for letting your kid ride the subway alone.

    stunned. i was just reading danah boyd, the microsoft senior researchers’s, phd thesis on social networks and teenagers (myspace, facebook). she did 21/2 years of field work and discovered that most of the kids she talked to are simply not allowed out of the house (mostly regular parents, but including hardworking single mom parents, crazy muslim father and older broz, meth head parents). facebook is the only public space to hang out with their friends in — and they only hang out with kids they already know.

    here is the url for danah’s paper. it is, apparently, and most unfortunately, titled after an ani difranco song.

    Click to access TakenOutOfContext.pdf

    boyd is not my hero, but a person of gen Y i trust, who is one of my heroes, thinks of danah boyd as the anti-zuckerberg.

    thank you for all you do.

    save our species!

  43. I think the sentiment that gently correcting another person is “intolerant” is part and parcel with that which causes one parent to freak out over another parent’s decisions. It’s all a refusal to learn and grow, and a choice to be defensive instead of expanding one’s horizons. It’s a choice to be emotional instead of thoughtful. Just yesterday I was talking to a guy friend on Facebook about evidence-based obstetric care, and his wife decided to become emotional and defensive because the evidence I presented went against a decision she had made in the past. This all relates back to Free Range parenting, because the helicopter parents are often making decisions based on emotion and fear.

  44. @hineata … If they get a good head count of who is out and who is in they may not clear the building.

    EXAMPLE: Neighbor’s house fire, with three kids and two adults, all accounted for, no guests present, they did not clear the building because it was really blazing.

    Had there been someone still in the building, they would probably have taken the high risk.

  45. Speaking of John Walsh, Google the following terms:

    John Walsh Anus Chips

    John Walsh Never Hire a Male Babysitter

    John Walsh Bus Surfing

    John Walsh Sex Addict

  46. My dad was a firefighter from 1968-2005. He pulled many children and pets out of burning homes. He did not like those stickers. (Our neighbors had one on a basement window and I thought it looked cool.) Not because they alerted possible predators but because they were often misleading to firefighters. Children weren’t always in their rooms or the stickers remained with homes that no longer had children. (Apparently they were quite durable) He did not like to risk the lives of firefighters without verifying the number of people in a house through more reliable means. I don’t think the reason the stickers went away was fear of predators. If it is the reason it sure is a silly one.

  47. @Sara – 37 years – that’s impressive. Good on your dad. Mine managed 30-odd (part-time, useful if somewhat time-consuming ‘hobby’). I had forgotten that you guys often have basements. We don’t usually here, at least ones that are dug out completely below the ground (sometimes people have ‘lower floors if they are building on hills, that are dug back into the hill as part of the foundation’) . Am just interested with you saying your neighbours had a sticker on the basement window. Do children sometimes sleep in basements? Would have thought that would be a bit cold and damp (seriously). And a bit of risk firewise…..Genuinely interested, as I like to hear how things work in other areas.

  48. @hineata – Thanks! Dad was a professional firefighter and fire safety engineer. He would agree the other posts that firemen would clear all the rooms and confirm with the home owner, neighbors or whoever that no one else was in the home…wouldn’t have even looked for the stickers probably.
    Anything below grade is considered a “basement” here. Including split foyers and walk-outs. In mountainous and hilly areas as long as there is a window and a closet in a room it can be considered a bedroom so there are a lot of “basement ranches.” The basements are all underground. The house next door when I was a kid was a split foyer but the entire back side of the 1st floor was underground so it was also considered a basement. Also consider this was a rural area in the 70’s early 80’s.

  49. @hineata.- I also live in a basement ranch now…we finished the walk out basement a few years ago and from the inside you wouldn’t even know your were 1/2 underground. If done right it’s just another part of the house.

  50. @LRH
    Wow. No matter how much noise pollution your neighbor’s pet makes, shooting them is NOT okay. Protecting your own family/property, fine, but simply because they are annoying you, no.

    Pets are not put above humans, they are put on par with babies because they are helpless like babies. They can’t understand a fire drill like children and a spouse can, and they can’t open the front door or window and get out of a house-fire like children and a spouse can. Also, movies aren’t real.

  51. I’m surprised that any fire department would hand these out. Although it’s important to know how many people reside in a house, fire fighters look through any house ablaze unless they know that it’s empty. A sticker won’t do much good as children tend to hide somewhere where they feel safe from danger. Often it will be under beds, in closets. You’ll do your family much more of a favour if you have an in-case-of-emergency (fire) plan. And then practice. If you feel the need you can get a small fire extinguisher but a planned and rehearsed route of evacuation will in all likelihood be more efficient. Plus a smoke detector.

  52. pets = babies? I guess anthropomorphizing animals has really caught on. Its an animal. Babies are not animals, neither are animals babies. A neighbor’s dog coming into my yard continually pooping, digging in my trash, chasing my cats? Out comes the pellet gun. A dog threatening my kids? out comes the 9mm. No matter *whose* dog it is. Pets are put on par with babies by people who can’t get over the fact that it’s just an animal, and a baby is not.

  53. “but also where she sleeps.”

    Sorry to draw attention to this but it is just as likely to be a “he”.

  54. Diane S, babies are indeed animals. All humans are animals. Look it up. And try reading the whole comment instead of just the part you read. I didn’t say they were equal, I said they were put on par with babies because they are helpless in some of the same ways.

  55. gwallan — grammatically, you have to pick either he or she in that sentence. Picking one does not assume excluding the other.

  56. […] of how insane and counter-productive our collective fear for our children is comes from a letter published by Lenore Skenazy on her indispensable blog Free Range Kids: I asked [a fireman] about the red reflective circles that […]

  57. @Jennifer
    There were also problems with idiots putting the stickers on every window in the house, not just the children’s bedrooms, because everyone knows “more is better,” right? So firefighters were frantically trying to clear every room even though some rooms were empty. Different cause, same outcome: firefighters at risk because they were trying to save the lives of children who weren’t in the building.

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