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Have fun, be safe
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The Covington and Newton County fire departments are teaming up for a Family Prevention Fun Night Thursday.

According to Covington Fire Department Assistant Fire Marshal Tony Smith, October is National Fire Prevention Month.

"To preempt that, we decided that we would have a family safety night where we would include more than just fire safety," Smith said.

Also providing attendees with information about everything from safely installing a child's car seat to correctly following the county's burn ordinances are the Covington Police Department, Newton County Sheriff's Office, Forestry Commission, Newton County Health Department and Covington-Newton County 911.

"We're really going to encompass the whole gauntlet as far as public safety goes," Smith said.

Activities for children include going through the Fire Commissioner's Smoke House.

Smith described the Smoke House as a recreational vehicle set up like a miniature house which uses a Roscoe Smoke Machine to simulate a burning home with non-toxic smoke. Children learn proper procedures for escaping their own home if it catches fire while also preparing them for low visibility conditions.

"It's always a big hit with the kids," Smith said of the Smoke House. "The kids love going through it."

He said safety awareness programs and devices such as the Smoke House are vital to informing children what they need to do in emergency situations. Because of small staffs and lack of funding, Smith said firefighters cannot visit all the elementary schools in the county for this type of safety education and therefore need items such as the Smoke House to help instruct children on actions that could save their lives or the life of a family member.

Smith said giveaways include popcorn, snow-cones, drinks, stickers and coloring books. He added entertainment for the whole family would be included in the free event.

"Clowns will be there tying balloons and doing tricks and little funny skits," Smith said.

 This will be the first year for the event that Smith said both departments hope becomes an annual outing for Newton families.

"We attempted to do this last year, but due to the weather - it rained buckets - we had to call it off after 30 minutes," Smith said.

He added it looked like Thursday night will be clear and pleasant.

"It should be a really fun event," Smith said.