Get Out Safely!
A Teaching Tool in Support of Fire Prevention Week

Cathleen E. Corbitt
Interactive Designer
interFIRE VR

To support your community education effort during Fire Prevention Week (October 5-11, 2003), has created an interactive module to use with kids and adults to teach key fire prevention and fire safety concepts. This fire safety content in this presentation was prepared using free resources available at For more information on Fire Prevention Week and free resources for firefighters, teachers, and families, visit

The module uses the interFIRE VR house fire in a new way. Instead of investigating the fire scene, you are going to walk through the house with your audience, explaining key fire prevention and safety concepts as you go. This printed document is the speaker notes for the presentation. When you click on each hotspot (as explained below), the hotspot is supported with bullet points.

The interFIRE VR "fire safety house" can also be experienced without using the following speaker's notes. Simply click on the hotspots for important fire safety information.


To successfully use this teaching tool, you need to know how to navigate the VR:
When your cursor is ďat restĒ (no mouse button pressed) over the VR scene, it looks like a target.
On the main screen, place your mouse over the VR scene. Hold down the left mouse button and move the mouse from side to side and up and down (the cursor will change to a thin arrow). This will turn around the VR scene and tilt it up and down. You will move in the direction the arrow points.
You may zoom in or out for a closer look within the VR scene. To zoom in, use the SHIFT key on your keyboard. To zoom out, use the CTRL key. You may zoom in or out while moving or while stationary.
When you want to examine an object in the VR, let go of the mouse button and slide the mouse around the object. When you see your cursor change to a hand, you can click there for details about that hotspot.
When you want to move to another location in the VR scene, for example from the kitchen to the dining room, use Step 1 to position the VR facing the way you want to go. Then, release the mouse button. Move your mouse around the picture. When you see your cursor change to a thick arrow, click there to move to that location in the VR scene.

Practice these controls until you are familiar with how to move around the VR scene. Review the following content and you are ready to teach the module.


In an age-appropriate manner, introduce your audience to the interFIRE VR house. Explain that this was a real house, created to train firefighters and fire investigators, and that a real, controlled fire was set in this home. You are going to go through it with them to help them understand fire prevention and fire safety. Along the way, youíll be asking questions and helping them understand how they could have gotten out of this house if they had been inside when the fire started. First, youíll talk about fire prevention.


ADDITIONAL MATERIALS: a real smoke alarm, if possible.

Start your talk with a discussion of the importance of smoke alarms. Navigate the VR to the basement of the home (walk into the front door, through the living room, in the dining room make a left into the hallway, then click on the staircase leading downstairs). On the ceiling to the right of the stairwell, you will see a round object. This is a smoke alarm. Ask your audience if they can guess what it is. When they do, click on the smoke alarm to bring up the screen of supporting text.

Discuss the following with your audience:

If appropriate, inform the audience that having smoke alarms in your home reduces their chance of dying in a fire in half. Furthermore, one-half of home fire deaths occur in the 6% of homes with no smoke alarms


ADDITIONAL MATERIALS: A floor plan of the interFIRE home, either prepared in advance or drawn during the presentation.

Go back up the basement steps, turn right, go through the dining room and into the living room. Click on the bay window and cover the following important steps of fire escape planning.

First, explain the importance of fire escape planning:

Navigate to the front lawn of the house (out the living room door).


Close this section by reminding the audience that they should practice the fire safety plan twice a year.


Now, move the audience into a discussion of how this plan would be implemented in a real fire. In every room, youíve marked at least two ways out. Which one do you choose? You must choose the escape route that is the safest, the one that leads away from the fire and has the least amount of smoke and heat.

Go back up the front steps and into the living room. Pause and explain that this room would have been filled with smoke and heat. It would have been impossible to get out the front door or the front window, or use the stairs to come down from the upper floor. How bad was it? Click on the couch in the living room to show your audience a video of the actual fire.

Show the video. As it plays, explain how the fire starts on the couch, but spreads quickly across the paneling and carpet. Emphasize how the air at the bottom stays freshest longest, and thatís why you must crawl out of a fireóto avoid the poisonous gases as long as you can.

Now that your audience knows what the fire was like, pull out the floor plan again. In each room, discuss which route out would have been the best. Which ones avoided the living room? Also bring up how you can detect where the fire is, such as hot doorknobs, or smoke coming under the door.

If anyone in your audience lives in a highr-rise apartment, explain that they must also be familiar with the buildingís evacuation plan, they must never use the elevator in a fire, and if they canít get out, they should call the fire department to report their exact location, close all the doors to their location, and seal up around the door and the air vents as best they can with duct tape or cloth. Open the windows, if possible, to get fresh air.


Remain in the living room.

Explain that during December, January, and February, heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires. Two-thirds of home heating fire deaths were caused by portable or fixed space heaters. Ask the audience if they see a space heater in this room. Point out how close the space heater is to the couch and that this is unsafe. Click on the space heater and emphasize the following points:


Navigate to the dining room and face the kitchen door.

Point out the smoke line of demarcation on the wall. It is a very clear illustration of where the poisonous gases are and where they are not. Click on the wall and emphasize the following points:


Go through the living room and up the stairs. Stand in the hallway and show the audience the bathroom and the bedroom on the right. Then, enter each room, showing the stark difference in damage. The bathroom is nearly destroyed, the bedroom is almost untouched.

Ask the audience if they can guess why the hallway and bathroom are so damaged by smoke and heat, but the bedroom isnít. The answer is: the bedroom door was closed and the bathroom door was not. Click on the bed and emphasize the following points:


Now, move your audience into a discussion of the possibility that, some day, their clothes or person could catch on fire. Do they know how to prevent this? If it does happen, do they know what to do?

Walk down the stairs, through the living room and into the dining room. Make a right into the kitchen.

Challenge the audience to identify four things in this room that get very hot. The answers are the stovetop, the oven, the toaster (stainless steel, to the right of the sink), and the microwave (black, to the right of the toaster). If appropriate, tell the audience that more fires start in the kitchen than in any other place in the home and cooking fires are the #1 cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Explain to children that it is very important that they never cook unless there is an adult supervising them, that no one should ever leaving cooking food unattended, and that people should not get too close to open flames, because their clothes might catch fire.

Click on the stove and emphasize what to do if they ever do catch fire:

If you can, demonstrate this procedure to the audience, then have them practice.

Also emphasize how to prevent kitchen fires:


In the kitchen, click on the garbage can near the door to the driveway.

Explain that smoking materials are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States. Most of the fires caused by smoking materials happen because they are not properly disposed of. If someone in your house smokes, they should put water on any matches, butts and ashes before throwing them away. And, you should make sure that ash trays are heavy enough so the do not tip over easily.

Return to the living room and ask your audience what theyíve learned today. The most important points of this exercise are:

Encourage your audience to implement all these prevention and safety tips as soon as possible. They may save their lives.