Getting kids involved in fire safety is important…and often not the first thing kids want to do when they could be playing with friends.
Here’s how to get them involved in family fire safety.
Have the “Fire Safety” Talk
WHN TIP – No Hide and Seek! Teach children them not to hide during a fire – they need to get out of the home or building ASAP. Even if they started the fire, they should not hide or be afraid of getting in trouble – saving their life is more important! Tell kids that they need to get out at the first sign of a fire.
- Talk with your entire family about the dangers of playing with fire. (Parents: Make sure matches and lighters are out of reach of children!)
- Teach children to stay three feet and/or three giant steps away from the stove while someone is cooking.
- Talk about the basic rules of gas and electrical safety. If kids (or anyone) smell a rotten-egg odor, they should leave the house immediately. (If your kids have never smelled a rotten egg, find something with sulfur in it and have your kids smell it so they know what you mean by ‘rotten egg smell’).
- Teach kids to stay away from frayed wires and not to put items in electrical sockets.
- Sleep with bedroom doors shut. If you’re not doing this now, it may be hard to change the habit – especially if kids are afraid of the dark – but doors can act as protective smoke shields and also increase potential escape time.
Plan Fire Safety Kid Activities
- Have your kids help you draw a floor plan of your residence and mark two parent-approved escape routes from each room.
- Let your kids designate a place for the family to meet outside the house. (If you choose a neighbor’s house, make sure all family members know the neighbor’s address and phone number. And be sure to tell the neighbor they are ‘it’!)
WHN TIP – Find a Favorite Tree: Neighbors too far away? Have your kids choose a favorite tree away from the home and on the lawn as your meeting place. Remind them to stay there and wait until the firefighters say it’s OK to move. Make sure the spot is away from the road and driveway – first responder vehicles will drive on these.
- Have your kids place a copy of fire escape plan in each bedroom. Make sure the plan is easily accessible.
- Do a home fire drill competition. Blindfold family members, put them in their bedrooms and tell them to crawl to safety. Have parents time kids and kids time parents – the fastest one wins a prize! (Choosing dinner? Extra allowance? Just be sure prizes are decided before the race begins.)
- As a family, review the emergency response plans for your children’s school, daycare and other places where the children or the family often goes.
Watch a great example of a family’s escape plan here:
Practice! Practice! Practice!
- Every month, practice escape plans from each bedroom (and other rooms) using two of the designated exits. This also ensures that windows and doors aren’t stuck and that screens can be removed.
- Practice fire escapes at night to see how long family members take to wake up. Also, practice blindfolded – the smoke will make it very difficult to see anything.
- Tell your family to leave your home at the first sign of fire or if the alarm sounds.
- Teach everyone to yell “FIRE!” as loud as they can several times while they are escaping.
- Children are often concerned about the safety of their pets. Remind them that, in many cases, pets are able to get out on their own, and they should NEVER go back into a burning building to rescue a pet.
- In the event of a fire, teach kids to stay low to the ground and to feel all doors before opening them. Remember, if a door is hot, get out another way!
WHN TIP – Know when to “stop, drop and roll.” Make sure children understand that “stop, drop and roll” is only used when clothing catches on fire. Not on fire? Then follow the escape plan.
For More Information
Created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), ReadyKids is a tool to help parents and teachers educate children ages 8 – 12 about emergencies and how they can help get their family prepared. The program includes family-friendly Web pages and online materials developed by Sesame Workshop and Discovery Education.
U.S. Fire Administration (USFA)
An entity of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency, USFA provides national leadership to foster a solid foundation for our fire and emergency services stakeholders in prevention, preparedness and response. The agency’s Keeping Kids Safe from Fire and Sesame Street Fire Safety Program web pages offer material and information on fire safety for parents and children.
Photo Credit: Unsplash