By: Stephanie Shabangu, Penfield Children’s Center
It’s important to teach fire safety to children of all ages, as a fire in the home can happen at any time of the day, including in the middle of the night. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 1,319,500 fires occurred in 2017 and 14,670 injuries were reported.
Sadly, every day at least one child dies from a house fire and many of these fires could have been prevented, if proper fire safety measures had been in place.
Talk with your family about the “Three P’s” of fire safety in order to keep your family out of harm’s way.
Prevent: The best way to keep children safe from fires is to prevent them from happening in the first place. While it’s great to teach your child to cook, make sure children always cook with an adult. Never allow your young child to use the oven or stove without your supervision. Make sure to teach your child about the dangers of touching hot surfaces as well to prevent burns. As you cook, be direct with your child by saying things like, “The stove is hot! Ouch! No touching.” Repeat these words every time you use the oven or stove together. Items such as tea kettles and toasters can also be hazards.
If you are cooking with your child, don’t allow him to wear loose-fitting clothing that could accidently touch the stove’s burner. A piece of fabric can easily catch fire if it touches the top of the stove, even for an instant.
Also, teach children that lighters and matches are NOT toys. To prevent curious kids from getting ahold of matches and lighters, make sure to keep them out of reach or in a locked cabinet.
It’s important to regularly check smoke detectors as well. Replace batteries twice per year and check monthly that they are working properly.
Plan: As a family, plan an escape route in case of a fire in your home. Make sure children are aware of the exits they can use in their bedrooms and that they should never hide from a firefighter. Find a common meeting place outside so everyone can be accounted for. And, as difficult as this can be, explain to children that they should never go back inside the house for pets or toys as this is too dangerous and that it is the firefighter’s job to go inside and bring people and pets out.
Practice: Children do best when they are able to practice! Allow your little ones to hear the sound of a fire alarm and practice following the escape route. Teaching injury prevention strategies such as feeling a door knob with the back of your hand to feel if it’s hot before opening the door, crawling on the floor to escape a smoky house and teaching the “stop, drop and roll” method if clothes or a part of their body catches on fire will go a long way in keeping children safe and empowering them to make fire-safe decisions during stressful times.
Have you discussed fire safety with your family?