Picture this – it’s Wednesday night, 2am and everyone is sound asleep. The children, aged 2 and 5, are downstairs in their bedrooms and the family dog is in the kennel outside. Suddenly, out of nowhere, like a grand strike of lightening filling the night sky, the calm serenity of the night is fractured. You are abruptly jolted awake by the ear-piercing screech of the fire alarm. The smell of smoke begins to fill your nostrils and within a split second, your heart rate doubles. Your mind starts to race…why is there a fire? Where is this fire? Do the kids know what to do in a fire – but they are downstairs?! Anxiety defiantly grips every part of your body as you leap out of bed and realise the fire is coming from the kitchen – a mere 10m away from the children’s bedroom.
Approximately, seven people die every day as a result of fires in the home. But alarmingly, the U.S. Fire Administration reports that children below the age of 5 have a significantly higher risk of dying in a residential fire, with more than 40% of children killed or injured in a home fire being under the age of 5.
Do these statistics make your palms sweat and your heart race? Do you have a little one at home? Would they know what to do in the event of an emergency? Most fatal fires are preventable, so it is important to make the time to prepare now to protect yourself, your family, and your home.
Arguably, the most important plan you will ever make is your family’s fire escape plan. A fire escape plan is a personalised plan of action that outlines how people should escape a burning house and identifies evacuation routes in the event of a fire.
How to make a fire escape plan:
Practice really is the key to being prepared for an emergency. Practice during the day, practice during the night, make your drill as realistic as possible. It is worth the time and effort to ensure that your family can quickly and safely evacuate your home.
Resources to help you create your family escape planResources to help you create your family escape plan
As every parent and education worker knows children’s curiosity can lead them to some troubling situations.
Statistical information gathered from the Parliamentary legal and Constitutional Affairs Fire Safety report advises that “it is difficult to locate information about fire related incidents in Australian States and territories, and even more challenging to find statistics that can be compared in a meaningful way.” [i]
The report also provides a limited overview of fire-related incidents as follows:
In the United States, "between the years 2005 to 2009, children playing with fire started an estimated 56,300 fires" [ii], from ignition such as candles, lighters and matches. Almost half of those fires were caused by children taking place in bedrooms after playing with those items. These statistics can be prevented with something as simple as teaching your kids fire safety and the dangers of hazardous items.
"Before kids are even born, they start to acknowledge voices and begin to gain an understanding, by 18 months children should e able to form their own sentences"[iii] which means they have the capability to know right from wrong, especially when it comes to hot and dangerous items.
To benefit yourself and your child in an emergency, it is recommended to ensure that you are teaching your child their name and where they live so when they reach 3 or 4 years old they can tell an appropriate person or emergency services.
Fire safety can be implemented when teaching your kids basic knowledge such as shapes, colours, words, noises etc. ensuring your child knows what a fire alarm is and the sound it makes is a great first step when teaching fire safety.
Explaining the dangers of fire and what it has the potential to do to themselves, others and their surroundings while scary for some can save their lives along with their peers as well. Teaching one child fire safety can start a chain reaction of preventing other children to play with hazardous items that can lead to a fire.
While teaching children the dangers of fire safety has loads of benefits, they are still children and don’t have the comprehension skills like adults do. There are lots of different activities available to help educate your little ones on the web and you can find some on our website as well under resources.
To prevent fires from happening or starting never leave things such as candles, food cooking or children with these items unattended even for a short period of time. Childproofing ignition such as matches or lighters can help prevent fires from happening but the education of Fire safety for children is still the most beneficial.
Have lots of fun with activities and teach your children fire safety tips through learning.
Teaching your child, the dangers of fires and what to do in a fire is the best way to keep you and your family safe, also ensure that you have your own escape plan for your family to follow in case of emergency.
Related post: Planning for escape from the family house.