At only 9-years-old, Charmin BoClaire became a hero to her entire family when she used the fire safety training she learned in school to quickly and safely evacuate her family from their burning home in October 2017.
Charmin was in the kitchen when the fire started. She saw her mom’s legs catch on fire and rushed to bring her a blanket to douse the flames. Then, she hurried to get her 8-month-old brother, who has Down syndrome, and her 4-year-old sister out of the house. Her sister was in the shower and didn’t want to leave because she wasn’t dressed, but Charmin wrapped her in a towel and urgently convinced her to go outside with her brother. Charmin then ran back inside the burning home to get her mom, who was struggling with her wounds.
During a house fire, a child’s natural reaction might be fear or bewilderment, says her aunt LaTiffanie Jackson, who explains that Charmin can be very shy. But, Charmin stepped up and took control in the unexpected situation, getting her siblings to safety and motivating her mom to go outside with her, saying, “You have to get up and get out. I’m not leaving you.”
It all happened in just a few moments. But, Charmin was prepared for those moments. Just one week before the fire, she and her classmates attended fire safety training at Nathan Hale Primary School. Charmin said that fire safety is important for everyone, “so they won’t get hurt and they’ll know how to help keep their family safe.”
Jackson, who is caring for the three children while their mother is recovering from injuries, says that Charmin has always been a caretaker for her younger siblings. She’s not surprised that Charmin went into quick action that day.
Charmin is still processing the experience, says her aunt. They lost everything in the house, including the family’s pet cat. Charmin is still focused on the distressing experience but she’s slowly getting more comfortable talking about it. “At first it really upset her to talk about it,” says Jackson, who adds that Charmin’s responsibility to her family runs so deep that she sometimes has to remind her to go out to play.
Charmin’s life-saving actions taught her classmates to really pay attention because, even at their young age, “they have the power and the ability to do something amazing,” says Jackson. “Something that changes lives.”
The Youth Award is presented to an outstanding individual(s) who is 17 years old or under and has performed an act of heroism involving an unusual, significant or unexpected incident, or is involved in an ongoing situation in which a commitment is made to the community through acts of kindness, courage, or unselfishness in response to an identified need.
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