Do you have Tot Finder stickers? Should I use them?

The short answer is "No, and please do not use them."

Oak Harbor Fire Department prefers to teach a proactive, quick response to fires and believe the use of "Tot Finder" decals could provide a false sense of security for your family. Through various public education programs, we begin educating children at a very young age about the basics of a home escape plan. Children are taught the importance of responding quickly to a smoke alarm, knowing two ways out of each room, crawling low in smoke and having a meeting place outside their home. Children may feel that by having this decal on their window, it will be okay to stay and wait for the fire department and this is not the message we want to teach them. Children need to learn the importance of getting out of the house as quickly as possible and get to the family's meeting place so they can be counted as safe.

There are other reasons why the use of these stickers is not recommended. One being that when children grow up and move away from home, or change bedrooms in the house, the decal remains in the window. Perhaps the room has been converted to an office or den and is no longer a bedroom at all. This places firefighters at undue risk by directing them to search for a child when in fact there are no children in that room or living at home.

Another reason why the decals are not recommended is because it provides a vulnerable spot for your home. The decals could act as a signal to unwanted individuals directing them to the location of your children.

Finally, it is important to understand that when a fire department responds for a fire, they are trained to perform a systematic search of the entire house. If firefighters were to first look for windows containing a "Tot Finder" decal, and search only those rooms, precious time would be wasted.

If you have decals in your home, we recommend removing them. Then get your family together and take the time to develop a fire escape plan indicating two ways out of each room and a meeting place outside. Be sure you have at least one smoke detector on each level of your home and remember to test them every month. Once you have a plan developed, you need to practice it to be sure everyone knows what to do. You can make it more interesting by blocking an exit with a sign stating that a particular exit is blocked by smoke or fire so family members will have to use their second way out.

Show All Answers

1. Do you have Tot Finder stickers? Should I use them?
2. Does the Fire Department dispose of unexploded fireworks or expired flares?
3. Does the Fire Department inspect fire extinguishers?
4. Does the Fire Department inspect new family child daycare facilities?
5. I have legal, "safe and sane" fireworks, where can I light them?
6. What type of fire alarm / smoke detector should I buy?