Deceptive Window Decals

The Gurnee Fire Rescue Department annually receives several calls from concerned citizens regarding the placement of decals on the windows of their children's bedrooms to alert firefighters to their location in the home in the event of a fire. While some other safety organizations in the United States and Canada sell these window decals, neither the Gurnee Fire Rescue Department, nor the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend their use for several reasons.

  • Our Department's educational philosophy and that of the NFPA is to teach people of all ages proactive, quick response to fires. These decals could give you and your family a false sense of security and may imply it's safe for children to wait to be rescued, rather than respond immediately on their own. Even at a very young age, children can be taught the basics of home escape planning: responding immediately when the smoke alarms sound, knowing two ways out of every room, crawling low under smoke, gathering at a meeting place, and calling the fire department from outside the burning building.
  • The window decals signal an area of vulnerability in the home, which could put the children or the entire household at risk for intruders.
  • We are concerned about the safety of firefighters who may enter a bedroom with a decal on the window to search for trapped children, only to learn that the children have changed rooms, grown up, or moved out.

The California State Fire Marshal's Office recently affirmed this position in an advisory issued to fire departments throughout their state. "Rescue is the foremost concern of firefighters," says Joan Jennings, the California Fire Marshal's chief of Fire Prevention. "They're trained to make a thorough and systematic search for anyone inside a burning building. Critical time could be lost in looking for windows marked with decals, with no assurance anyone would be in that room."

If you have window decals in your home, remove them and take a proactive approach to your family's safety. Sit down tonight with your children and review your family's home fire escape plan. Children learn best by doing--so make sure they participate. If you haven't physically practiced your plan since the last Fire Prevention Week, now is a good time for another family fire drill. This time make it more challenging--and fun--for kids by developing "pretend" fire situations for them to think about and act through. Use furniture and signs to indicate blocked or "hot" spots. Provide opportunities to practice several times during the year until you're confident that your children have the information and skills they need to make smart decisions in an emergency.

For assistance or additional information regarding smoke detectors, home escape plans, or safety inspections, please call either our Fire Prevention Bureau at (847) 599-6650 or the Public Education Division at (847) 599-6600. Remember, When Seconds Count--Count on Us!