As parents, we have a lot of hopes and dreams for our children. We want them to be healthy, do well in school, be good citizens in the community, and develop into the talented and well-rounded people we believe they can be. But at the end of the day, what we really hope most is that they’ll be safe.
With the world we live in today, there are so many areas of safety to teach our children about. From cyber and Internet safety to what to do in a natural disaster to the standard “look both ways before crossing the street”, we wouldn’t be surprised if fire safety isn’t at the top of your list when it comes to keeping them safe. But it’s never too late to start helping them learn. The more informed they are, the less likely they will be to inadvertently start a fire in the home or be scared when faced with a house fire. Here are a few tips to consider when teaching kids about fire safety.
- Get them acquainted with smoke alarms.
Since smoke alarms are typically the first warning of a fire in the home, it is important for your kids to know all about them so they aren’t caught off guard in a potentially dangerous situation. Explain how they work, show them what they sound like, and help them to understand that they are in your home to keep you safe. For older children, explain what the different beeps mean so they can be your helpers in keeping the batteries current and making sure your alarms are in good, working order.
- Have a fire escape plan for your family.
A house fire can cause panic in even the bravest of people, which means that children especially need to know what to do in the event of a fire in the home. To give them confidence and peace, draw a map of your home and neighborhood and create a fire escape plan for your family. Go over the plan with them often and make sure that your children know where to exit the house and where to meet outside so that they can be empowered in the moment that the smoke alarms start blaring.
- Teach them to stay low in smoke.
Smoke inhalation is one of the scariest parts about home fires. Because of this, always teach your kids that the goal is to get outside as quickly as possible in a fire. But in the event that they get trapped or getting out takes longer than expected, help them understand that smoke rises and that the best thing they can do to breathe in less smoke is to stay low to the ground. Tell them to take cues from their little brothers and sisters and crawl their way to safety!
- Set rules about fire, outlets/electricity, and cooking in the house.
Like you would with any potentially dangerous items in your home, set rules about candles, matches, and fire in the home and make sure they are well understood. Explain how to use outlets and electric-powered items safely and demonstrate safe use of these items yourself. And for your little chefs, teach them how to prevent fires in the kitchen with safe and responsible cooking practices and make sure to supervise beginners in their use of the stove and oven.
The prospect of keeping our kids safe can be daunting, but with a little preparation and thought, it can even turn out to be fun! We hope you and your families will stay safe with these tips as you learn together. For more information and resources, check out this webpage from the U.S. Fire Administration.
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