A home fire can put your family at serious risk — especially your children. In fact, kids under five are twice as likely as other family members to die during a home fire. Many home fires in the U.S. are started because of children playing with fire.
There are many steps that parents can take to help prevent home fires and keep their children safe. These precautions range from teaching children about the dangers of fire to creating a preparedness plan for your family in case of emergency. Teaching kids about fire safety is an essential part of parenting. The following are the top fire safety tips and tricks from firefighters and other safety experts.
Prevent Fires Before They Start
Roughly 300 people are killed each year in fires that were started by children. One of the best ways to keep your children, pets and home safe is to teach your child the importance of not playing with fire. Explain that fire can be destructive and even deadly.
Parents must also take precautions to keep fire out of the hands of their children. Keep lighters, matches and other flammable items out of reach. Do not light candles when children are present.
Teach About Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors are critical life-saving features in your home. Teach your children how they work, so they know to associate the sound of an alarm with smoke or fire. Parents must change smoke alarm batteries regularly, as the alarms tend to sound more often when batteries are low. Too many false alarms may cause children to be less responsive if a real fire does occur.
Create and Practice an Escape Plan
Firefighters and safety experts suggest that every room in the house should have two exits. Generally, these two exits include a window and a door. However, some rooms do not have two exits. These may include laundry rooms, offices or media rooms. As much as possible, it’s best to keep children out of rooms without two exits.
Every fire escape plan should include a meeting place outside of the home. Many children prefer to hide when they are scared. They should know never to hide inside or reenter a home that is on fire.
The American Red Cross recommends practicing your escape plan at least twice a year. It should be practiced at least once during the day and once at night. All family members should know how to low crawl to avoid smoke inhalation and how to dial 911.
Teach your children to get as low as possible to the ground and stay there if a room has no exit. Firefighters know to check the floor near beds first when entering a child’s room.
Practice Using Escape Ladders
Rooms on second or third floors should have fire escape ladders, and all family members should know how to use them correctly. Always place escape ladders near windows, so they are easy to access in the event of a home fire. Practice using an escape ladder out of a first-floor window, so your children can get comfortable using it without risk of injury.
Checking for Heat
Kids should know how to safely check doors for heat. They should immediately locate a towel or other protective material for touching windows or doorknobs that may be hot. A towel can also cover the mouth to avoid smoke inhalation when exiting the room.
Stop, Drop and Roll
The “Stop, Drop and Roll” method of putting out a fire has been taught in schools, daycares and other institutions for decades. Teach your children to stop moving, drop to the ground and roll if their clothing catches fire. This can prevent the fire from spreading and causing serious injury.
Teaching fire safety to children is one of the best ways to prevent home fires and keep your family safe in the event of an emergency. Begin by teaching about the dangers of playing with fire, then create clear escape routes and plans. These plans should be practiced at least twice a year or as often as needed for your children to execute them flawlessly.
AUTHOR BIO: Benjamin Hadlock is Vice President of BlowHard Fans, an innovator in industrial fans for firefighters. For more than a decade, Hadlock has been a driving force in BlowHard Fans’ strategic journey in research and quantification of fan performance as part of product development. He has been instrumental in relationship building and information sharing within the industry.