Fires can have devastating effects on families. Not only can it cause damage to your home, it can also cause emotional and physical harm to your little ones. Household fires are to blame for eighty-five percent of fire related deaths. Because fires spread quickly, families have an average of two minutes to get out of harm’s way once they hear their fire alarm warn them of danger. Teaching your children about fire safety awareness is an essential part of parenting. Here are some interactive ways you can teach your child about fire safety.
Teach your child about the smoke alarm. A common rule of thumb is to change the batteries during daylight savings. Involve your children in the changing of the batteries, showing them that this is an important part of your house. However, showing them the fire alarm is not enough. The next step is to make the alarm sound. Although this can be scary for kids, especially the young ones, they must be familiar with the sound that signals an emergency in your house. Once they are familiar with this sound, you can move on to the next step.
Teach your child the evacuation plan. Just like in schools or the workplace, performing fire drills regularly will help you be prepared for a fire emergency. This evacuation plan should include covering their mouth and nose, staying low, and calling for help while finding the nearest exit. Have other adults get involved as “barriers”, saying “There’s a fire here! You can’t go this way!” Although this seems like a lot to learn, repeated practice will make your child a pro. This practice will trigger an innate reaction if your child is ever faced with a fire emergency. Establish a safe meeting place, which will probably be a neighbor’s house where you can call emergency services. If your child is old enough to understand it, try drawing an evacuation route together.
Teach your child about fire in the home. Remember that tag on your child’s pajamas that says “anti-flammable”? It is there for a reason. Children naturally gravitate towards fire, most likely because it looks pretty! However, we all know the injuries that can occur if they decide to play with it. Your first line of defense is to keep any fire related items, such as matches, candles and lighters, out of reach. Your second line of defense is to give them monitored exposure to teach them that fire will hurt them. If you feel comfortable, place a candle near you and allow them to look, continually telling your child “Do not touch” or “Hot hot hot” with a negative look. This will show your child that something negative will happen if they touch it. If your child is fearless, well, maybe just keep the candles away! Another line of defense is to be vigilant when cooking. Stoves are easily touched by little hands, so make sure you pay close attention when cooking to safeguard your little one from a fire related injury.
Take your child to a fire safety event. Although many schools take field trips to fire stations, check your local events to see if there is an opportunity to visit the fire house. Fairs and holiday events often have fire fighters ready to give material, educate, and teach children about fire safety. An organization recently visited my school that had a virtual fire trailer. This gave kids a safe yet real life experience of what it is like to be inside a building with a fire. The kids did not stop talking about this experience for weeks! Contact your local fire department to see if any events are available.
Although teaching fire safety may seem like a lot of work, it will always be worth it. Knowing your child is prepared for a fire emergency will give you peace of mind whether you are at home or away. These lessons will help them save valuable seconds if an emergency ever arises.
Another way to keep your child safe is to teach them how to swim. Find out more here.