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ECMS students fire safety essay wins state recognition
10.11 Fire Safety winner
Caroline Winters, left, discusses her winning essay with language arts teacher Michael Newell. - photo by Photo provided

Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John W. Oxendine has announced the state winners of the annual Fire Safety Essay contest and ECMS 7th grader Caroline Winters was named the runner-up for her grade level.

Language arts teacher Michael Newell said she was thrilled when she got the phone call from Commissioner Oxendine’s office.

“I called Caroline’s mom that afternoon but asked her to please keep it a secret so I could tell Caroline myself at school the next day,” explained Newell. “I know that was hard for her to do because she was so proud.”

Newell said she was also proud and pleased that her student entered the contest. Participation was optional and Winters was the only one in Newell’s class to give it a try.

The young writer’s original essay had to be pared down from about 600 words to 200 before it could be submitted. Newell said that was the first of two challenges she and Winters faced. The second challenge came when they attempted to fax the essay to Oxendine’s office and the receiving fax machine was constantly busy. Rushing to meet the deadline for submitting the entry, Newell said they ended up calling Atlanta to confirm that the essay was received.

Disbelief and a few tears describe Winters’ reaction when she found out that her essay had placed second in the state.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I have never won anything like this. I was so excited.”

The theme for the essay was, “It’s Fire Prevention Week: Practice Your Escape Plan.” Winter’s memories of her family’s garage burning down when she was younger made this topic very relevant for the young writer. Her winning essay is printed below.

“Do You Have an Escape Plan?”
by Caroline Winters, 7th Grade, ECMS

Being safe is a big concern when it comes to fire. It’s Fire Prevention Week: Practice Your Escape Plan, do you have an escape plan? A fire escape plan is a plan to get out of a home in case of a fire. People all around the world die in fires because they can’t get out. It is very important that everyone in your family know how to get out in case of a fire.

Here are some tips you can follow to make sure every family member knows how to get out. Plan ahead. The first step in escaping a fire is plan ahead. Together, family members can decide on a safe escape route and where to meet. But don’t just plan an escape route; practice it until everyone knows it. Install smoke detectors, ensure they work properly at all times, and install fire extinguishers. Decide on who will run to a neighbor to call 911 (or your local fire department.)

Become more informed on the dangers of fire. Have you practiced your escape plan lately?