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How To Teach Kids Basic Fire Safety

No one expects to ever have a fire in their home

But it happens, literally every day, and kids are at especially high risk. Because when kids panic, their instinct is not to escape but to hide, which is the worst thing to do in a fire.

That’s why experts recommend that, besides practicing good fire prevention, parents teach their kids basic fire safety rules early. And that includes creating a family fire safety plan.

Fire Safety Prevention Tips

  • Teach your children to NEVER play with lighters, matches, or candles. (Did you know playing with fire is the leading cause of fire-related deaths in preschoolers?)
  • Make sure your kids know how and when to call 911. Practice so they know what to do and say.
  • Develop a family fire escape plan, and practice it regularly (see below).
  • Visit kid-friendly fire safety websites with your child, such as  Take advantage of child-friendly videos, puzzles and games that teach kids about fire safety in a down-to-earth, non-scary way.

Teach Kids How to Escape a Fire

  • Get down and crawl. Smoke rises, so the air is cooler and cleaner down low.
  • Test each door before touching it. Put your hand near the back of the door. If it’s hot, proceed to your second exit route. If it isn’t, open it slowly, but be ready to slam it shut if you see smoke or fire.
  • Never hide under beds or in closets. The goal is to escape!
  • Never to go back into a burning building.
  • Be ready to stop, drop, and roll if necessary.

Create a Family Fire Safety Plan

According to firefighters, having and practicing a fire exit plan is proven to alleviate panic and reduces risk of injury should an actual fire occur. Here’s how:

Make a map of your home, with doors and windows. Identify two ways out of every room.

  • Review the plan with your children. Post it where they can see it. This will help them remember it.
  • Make sure your windows open easily. If your children are old enough, make sure they can open the windows in their bedrooms.
  • If you have a multi-story home,  you need a 2-story or 3-story fire ladder. Choose one that’s lightweight and easy enough for kids to use. Store it where it’s accessible, and practice using it from a ground floor window.
  • Pick a meeting place outside the house, such as your mailbox or a neighbor’s driveway.
  • If you have pets, your plan should include them. Identify which adult is responsible for them. The last thing you want is for a child to rush back into a fire because a beloved pet was left behind.

Practice Your Fire Safety Plan

Experts recommend practicing fire safety plans twice a year. Since most home fires happen at night, practice at night: get everyone in bed, turn the lights off, and activate a smoke detector using its test switch. Now, put your plan into action. Because when it comes to escaping a hot fire, your child’s best defense is a cool head.

Fire Safety Resources:

US Fire Administration

Consumer Product Safety Commission Fire Safety Information Center

National Fire Protection Association

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