While we would love to believe we can always protect our children from the dangers that exist, the reality is this is not always the case. Teaching our children fire safety is an important part of protecting them in the event an emergency arrives. Below you will find some helpful hints for teaching your children fire safety.
Go to the Experts
If possible, take your child to a local fire station to meet the firefighters and take a tour. Many fire stations offer tours free of charge with a call ahead, in fact for my oldest son’s third birthday we took the entire group there (Free and educational party idea!)
Install smoke detectors on each level of your home and outside all sleeping areas. Check them regularly-they cannot protect you if they don’t work! I like to test mine at the beginning of every month. Set your alarm on your phone, set up your computer to remind you, write it on the calendar-whatever you need to do to remember. After a few months it will become habit.
Family Fire Drill
When you are testing your smoke detectors it is a good time to familiarize your children with the sound of the alarm and go over your family fire plan. Designate a family meeting place outside of your home (ours is a large tree away from the house), go over what to do in case of a fire:
- Roll out of bed and crawl low under smoke where the air is fresher and cooler.
- Get out fast. Do not stop to rescue pets or personal possessions.
- Feel the door with the back of your hand. If the door is hot, use another escape route.
- Go directly to your meeting place outside.
- Call 9-1-1 from a neighbor’s home.
- Stay out! Never go back inside for any reason.
Emphasize to your children to never, ever return inside the house, even if Mom/Dad/Fido is still inside. Also please teach them to never hide if there is a fire. One firefighter we spoke with told us that many times children die in fires they are found hiding under a bed or in a closet.
Let your children know that if they cant escape their room to shut the doors between themselves and the fire, stuff something in the crack under the door, and signal out a window to let others know they are there. Show them the masks and gear a firefighter would be wearing so they aren’t afraid if they saw them. (Another reason an in-person fire station trip is particularly valuable.)
Practice, practice, practice the fire plan! Make up different scenarios for your children (fire in hallway, down the stairs, etc) so they can put the lessons you are teaching them into practice and remember them!
Stop, Drop, and Roll
Teach and practice this technique to put out fires on clothing:
STOP where you are, don’t run
DROP to the ground
Cover your face with your hands and ROLL around to smother the flames.
Playing with Fire and Injury Prevention
Teach your children what matches and lighters are and explain that they are never to touch or play with them. If they find matches or lighters, tell them to tell an adult right away. These items are tools, not toys.
Teach them through daily activities about fire safety-while cooking explain that the oven is hot, show them how you must use an oven mitt to protect your hand. Tell them to never grab anything off the stove and keep all handles turned inward while cooking.
Let them know to never touch an open flame-my son was burnt at a neighborhood event where food warmer with open flames were out on waist-high tables-it only takes a moment of curiosity.
Set your hot water heater temperature at 120 and never leave your children alone in the bathtub to avoid scald burns.
If you or someone in your household uses curling irons or flat irons, take the time to teach your child to never touch these, a friend’s two year old received third degree burns from grabbing her flat iron…again, it takes only a moment of curiosity.
Here are some preschool fire safety books to read with your children:
Stop Drop and Roll (A Book about Fire Safety)
by Margery Cuyler
by Pati Myers Gross, Tom Gibson
It’s Time to Call 911: What to Do in an Emergency
by Penton Overseas
For more information, these websites are very useful as well:
While these resources are just a start, I hope they help you begin to teach your children the importance of fire safety. If you have any other tips or activities for teaching children fire safety please leave them in the comments, I’d love to hear them!