Parents urged to check day care licenses, operating history

READING, Pa. - A tragic fire in northwestern Pennsylvania is shining a spotlight on safety at day care centers across the state. First responders are encouraging parents to take a closer look after the deaths of five children at a home day care in Erie on Sunday.

"Horrible. Just horrible," said Lt. Trent Zulick, Reading Fire Department. "That many children in a fire like that, it's horrible."

The victims were between eight months and seven years old, and officials said the tragedy may have been prevented if the house had more smoke detectors. Officials said there was only one working smoke detector, and it was in the attic.

"The more smoke detectors you have, of course, you can't over do it, but have one on each level, one in each bedroom or sleeping area," said Zulick.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services requires all home day cares to have working smoke detectors on every floor and carbon monoxide detectors within 15 feet of every bedroom or sleeping area.

First responders said picking a day care just because of a good reference may not be enough. Before enrolling your kids, you're encouraged to make sure the center is licensed and meets safety requirements.

"I say always do your homework, and doing your homework requires asking the right questions. Number one are they licensed as a day care," Zulick said.

You can check to see if your child's day care is licensed or has had any violations on the state Department of Human Services website. You'll also find a list of licensed providers, so you can make sure your children are safe.

"They are your pride and joy. You have to watch out for them," Zulick said.

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