It’s important that children understand the danger of house fires and know what to do to prevent them and stay safe if there is one.
Although it may not be a pleasant topic to discuss with your children or grandchildren, it’s essential that you do. According to London Fire Brigade, over 400 children under the age of 11 are injured and four are killed in accidental fires in the home in England every year.
Here are a few tips on how to talk to children about fire safety.
Get clued up
Before you talk to children about fire safety, it’s important to ensure that you can talk about it in a clear and informative way. There are plenty of helpful resources available online to help.
Make it fun
Although fire safety is a very serious topic, children are more likely to absorb what you teach them if you make it fun. There are lots of activities available for free on the internet that make learning about fire safety engaging, especially for younger children.
For example, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has games, worksheets and videos. You can also try Fire Safe Kids, which provides plenty of activities to make fire safety fun for little ones.
How to prevent a fire
The government’s Fire Kills initiative suggests some simple and clear messages that all children should be aware of to prevent fires and to stop them from hurting themselves. These include:
- Don’t touch or play with matches, lighters, candles, electrical appliances or sockets.
- Tell a grown-up if you see matches or lighters lying around.
- Be extra careful near fires and heaters.
- Never switch on the cooker or touch saucepans.
- Don’t put things on top of heaters or lights.
What to do if there is a fire
Share these safety messages from Fire Kills so your children know what to do in the event of a fire:
- If you see or smell smoke or flames tell a grown-up straight away.
- Get out of the building as quickly as you can if there is a fire.
- Don’t go back inside for anything, even toys or pets.
- Find a phone: you might need to go to the neighbours to find one.
- Call 999. Ask for the fire and rescue service and tell them your address.
- Only call 999 in a real emergency.
- If there’s smoke, crawl along the floor as the air will be clearer down there.
- Go into a room with a window if the way out is blocked. Put bedding or towels along the bottom of the door to stop smoke getting in. Open the window and shout “Help! Fire!”.
Have a plan
You should have an escape plan for how everyone would get out of your home in the event of a fire.
Your whole family should know this plan, including children, and you should practice it with them too. If kids understand the plan and how important it is, they’ll probably be more likely to play their part and make sure the escape route is clear of toys and other obstructions.
Don’t make it a one-off lesson
Once you’ve taught your little ones about how to prevent a fire and what to do if there is one, it doesn’t stop there.
The government recommends that you talk about fire safety with children more than once, to make sure that they remember and understand what you have taught them. You can quiz them on what they’ve learnt every once in a while and make a fun family game out of it.
Tips to keep children safe from fire
Here’s a reminder from Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service of some simple ways to keep children safe from fire:
- Don't let them play near a fire or heater or leave toys nearby.
- Put a childproof fireguard in front of an open fire or heater.
- Place candles and tealights where children cannot reach them.
- Don't leave children on their own in a room where there's a fire risk.
- Keep matches and lighters where children cannot see or reach them.
- Put plug guards into sockets so children can't stick anything into the holes.
- Keep portable heaters in a safe place where they can't be knocked over when they are being used or stored.
- Never leave children alone in the kitchen when you're cooking and never let them play near the oven and hob.
- Put child locks on cupboards containing anything that could be used to start a fire, such as matches, candles and flammable liquids.
It’s always a good idea to make sure you remember all the steps you can take to protect your family and your home from fire. Check out our fire safety checklist for a refresher on the basics.
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