By Robin McClure Updated on August 29, 2019
If a fire started in your home, would your kids know what to do? It’s important to regularly review fire safety with kids so you will all be prepared in the event of a fire emergency. Childcare providers, teachers, and parents should work together to teach children of all ages about fire safety.1
Talk Smoke Detectors
Teach children about smoke detectors: Why they are installed, how they work, and the sound that they make. Children need to be able to associate the sound with a fire. Adults should change batteries regularly to avoid having the alarm go off because its battery is low; this could frighten a child.
Firefighters recommend changing your smoke detectors’ batteries every time you turn your clocks ahead or back for Daylight Saving Time.2
Plan Escape Routes
Practice Opening Windows
Make sure that windows, especially in bedrooms, are not stuck closed, that screens can be removed quickly, and that security bars can be opened. Older kids should learn how to complete these tasks on their own in the event of an emergency.4
Use Escape Ladders
Place escape ladders near second-floor bedroom windows, and have children practice using them. For very young kids, you may want to practice a first-floor window exit just to give them some idea of what to expect.5
Touch Door and Check For Heat
Instruct kids how to check doors to see if they are hot, and if so, how to find another way out. Fire safety for children includes having them find a towel to use for handling, touching or grabbing items to avoid burns and to also use the towel or cover to protect their faces and cover their mouths.
If both exits of a room are blocked, kids should get as low as possible. Lie on the ground, near the bed if possible; that’s where firefighters will look for them.6
Use Your Hands, Not Your Eyes
Children should practice feeling their way out of the home in the dark or with their eyes closed. Turn this into a game by blindfolding your child and asking them to feel their way to a designated area. Daycares and childcare providers can set it up as an obstacle course, and then provide cues and help so that when they reach a designated endpoint, a special treat awaits. (It could be as simple as lunch served outside.)Fun Activities to Teach Kids About Fire Safety7
Sing a Song
Consider teaching a fire escape song to reinforce the need to get out of a burning building. Sing these words to the tune of “Frere Jacques”: “There’s a fire! There’s a fire! Must get out! Must get out! Stay away from fire! Stay away from fire! It is hot. It is hot.”8
Stop, Drop and Roll
Teach children what to do in the event that their clothes catch fire. Make sure they understand “stop, drop, and roll.” Act it out for them and have them practice with you. Many fire-related injuries can be avoided or minimized if a child heeds this advice instead of running.9
Out Means Stay Out
Teach children that once they are out of a burning house or building, they must go to the designated meeting place and never, ever venture back in. If a family member or a pet is missing, they should inform a firefighter or adult. There are too many tragedies where an individual who has gotten out safely ventures back into the home or building.10
Practice your escape plan at least twice a year; monthly is even better. Just like schools, child care centers and homes should also practice fire drills.