By contributing writer Colleen
I hadn’t really thought much about family fire safety until the night two years ago when my neighbor beat on my door shouting for me to call the fire department.
His house was on fire.
7 boys, including his son, sat with wide eyes in my family room, the Lego model they were building for their upcoming robotics competition was completely forgotten. They weren’t confident engineers any more, they were terrified little boys.
While it didn’t happen exactly at that moment, I did realize that my kids needed to know what to do in case of a fire because of that moment.
Do your kids know what to do in case of a fire? Here are some easy ways to teach them what to do.
Create a Plan
- Have your kids help you create a map of your home with all of the exit points highlighted in specific colors.
- Get roll out ladders for upper windows. Keep blankets or towels handy and teach your kids to put them over their mouths as they escape from a fire to keep from breathing too much smoke.
- Designate a meeting place in the neighborhood. This could be a trusted friend’s house, a stop sign, a lamppost, or whatever. It just needs to be easily accessible for even your littlest.
Practice Your Escape
Once a month (or more often in the beginning) have a family fire drill. This can be planned or unplanned so your kids experience it both ways. Set off your fire alarm so they get used to the sound. The more you practice and they hear it, the less they’ll be frightened and freeze if the alarm goes off for real.
Read about fire safety, especially with your little ones. I love the video Elmo Visits the Firehouse. In this fabulous DVD, Elmo and his friend go out to eat. When the fire alarm goes off due to a grease fire in the kitchen, Elmo is scared and doesn’t want to go back. He is even frightened of the fire fighters in their gear.
Fire fighters are scary looking when they have all of their gear on, especially if they’re heading toward you in a smoke-filled room. Watch videos like this with your kids, then visit your local fire station so they can meet real fire fighters and see all of their equipment up close.
Some fire stations have a “smoke house,” a trailer that is filled with smoke to mimic a burning building. My six year old recently crawled through one of these, and she was a little unsteady when she got out. It was a disorientating experience, but now she knows what it would be like in a fire and has the understanding of why it’s important to get low beneath the smoke and get out right away.
Above all, keep fire safety an on-going conversation with your kids and around the dinner table. A house fire is devastating when there are no injuries. They’re unthinkable when someone, especially a child, is unprepared.