Fire safety is important for the entire family, but even more so for children. According to the “Child Fire Death Rates & Relative Risk” (2001-2010) report, 54% of all children fire deaths occur to those under the age of 5. These children are not able to escape from fire emergences in the home by themselves as easily as an older child. Children playing with fire are the leading cause of death among preschoolers. Over $280 million in property damage is attributed to children playing with fire. 2 out of 3 child-playing fires and 3 out of 4 of those that are associated with death and injuries involve matches or lighters! These are very sobering statistics. What can be done to reduce the chances of a child starting a fire?
Children need to be taught at an early age about the dangers of playing with fire in an effort to prevent injuries, death, and damage to property. Each year, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) (Link to: http://www.nfpa.org) and other fire agencies sponsor “Fire Protection Week”, to help children learn more about fire safety. The program runs October 5th to October 11th this year. Sparky the Dog is the official mascot of Fire Prevention Week. The Sparky website is devoted to fire safety and prevention tips that teachers and parents can share with their children. Realistically, there should be more than just one week devoted to fire safety. Fire safety should be taught all year long. Children need to fully understand the dangers of playing with fire and as well as the consequences of what could happen when they do so.
Children Fire Safety Tips
1. Keep matches and lighters in a secured location out of reach of children.
2. If a child finds matches, lighters, or other ignitable objects, they need to be taught to immediately give them to an adult.
3. Have a home fire escape plan in place for your home. Make sure all family members know the plan. Practice the escape route every month. Tell the child where to meet outside of the home if they do need to escape. Teach the child about crawling on the ground below the smoke in order to get out of the burning house. Children should be told not to grab their favorite toys to take with them and they should never go back into a burning room or house.
4. Practice stop, drop, and roll in case there is clothing on fire.
5. Sound the home smoke alarm, so the child recognizes the sound and knows that if it does go off, it is an emergency.
6. Teach your child not to be afraid of fire professionals. They should not hide when firefighters enter the room. A good suggestion would be to take your child to visit a local fire station to get a tour, meet their local firefighters, and get more safety tips. Have emergency phone numbers and contacts visible in every room of the home.
7. Have working smoke alarms on every floor of the home. Place the smoke alarms in the hallway outside of bedrooms, in the kitchen, and in the basement.
8. Check under the bed for evidence of burned matches and objects. This is a sign that the child is playing with fire. Also, children love to hide under beds, so this is a perfect spot for them to try out the matches or lighters.
9. It is common that smoke alarms don’t always wake children. Prepare for this by placing smoke alarms as close to bedrooms as possible, and by practicing fire drills with the smoke alarm sounding.
10. Add fire-escape ladders, to each bedroom that is over 10 feet from the ground in the home. Explain to your children how to use the ladder and practice at least once a month when your are practicing the home escape plan.