Did you know the United States Fire Administration reports 40 percent of fire-related injuries or deaths among children were under the age of five? Generally speaking, very young children lack the mature thought processes and motor skills needed to safely escape a fire. However, routine review of fire safety rules and repetitive practice of escape plans will benefit any child, despite their age. The following 10 rules, when heeded, will not only increase a child’s likelihood of escaping a fire unharmed, it will decrease their chances of accidentally starting a fire themselves.
1. Children should never play with lighters or matches. As a safety measure, they should be stored in a secured area, out of a child’s reach. In addition to stressing the importance of not playing with such items, it may be helpful to train your child to alert you if these items are ever unintentionally in their reach.
2. Install smoke detectors. Familiarize your children with their locations.
3. Test your smoke detectors every month. Be sure your children are familiar with the severe sound they make and know it means they need to get outside as quickly as they can.
4. Change your smoke alarm’s batteries routinely. A good rule of thumb is to change them as you adjust your clocks in the spring and fall for Daylight Savings.
5. In case of a fire, get outside as quickly as possible. Children have a tendency to hide from scary situations. Certainly fires are scary, but teach your kids to run outside instead of hide in the case of a fire.
6. When escaping a fire, crawl on your belly. You can teach your children this rule by using the catchy phrase “Fall and Crawl.” The reason for crawling is due to the fact that heat rises; therefore, it is easier to breathe when you are closer to the ground.
7. If your clothing has caught fire, the old “Stop, Drop, and Roll” technique continues to ring true. Instruct your children to continue to roll on the ground until the fire is out, and stress the fact that running will only make it worse.
8. Compose an escape plan and practice it regularly with the entire family. It is best to figure out two ways of escape, in case one becomes blocked.
9. Designate a place to meet outside. Doing this will make it easy to determine when everyone is safely out of the house.
10. Make sure everyone in the family knows the emergency number and only to call it in case of an emergency. It may be helpful to put stickers with the number on your phones or in high-traffic areas of the home.
Sharing these safety tips with your children will increase their chances of escaping a dangerous situation and give you the peace of mind that your family is prepared. Due to short attention spans, it may be beneficial to discover fun ways to practice these rules and drills and to do so regularly.
Ashley Madison writes for Essential Fire Safety, the leader in fire standpipes and fire hose reels.