Stop, drop and roll is only the beginning of fire safety. Talking about and practicing fire safety with your children can help prevent fires and keep everyone safe.
Prepare now so you can act quickly in an emergency. Getting out and making sure everyone is safe is the crux of a fire evacuation plan. It doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, simpler is better — and fast is key. Follow these steps and practice it during fire drills so you can act immediately if there's a fire in your home.
Create a fire evacuation plan
- Sketch a map of your house.
- Draw two escape routes from each room — one out a door, one out a window.
- Designate a meeting spot a safe distance from the house (for example, the mailbox across the street).
- Hang the plan where everyone can see it regularly (the refrigerator or bulletin board in the kitchen, for example).
Teach and practice fire drills at home
A fire drill every few months will get children interested with the change in routine, and keep adults in practice as well. Practice — exactly as you'd do it in real time.
- Start the drill by sounding a smoke alarm, so children can recognize the beep as an early warning to fire.
- Leave everything behind and follow the escape route.
- Stop, drop and roll. Practice this important safety move so you can help prevent serious burns if your clothes are on fire. Have children demonstrate the steps for you, and remind them to cover their face and mouth.
- Touch the doorknob. If it's hot, go to the window. If not, open the door and keep going.
- Follow the evacuation plan.
- Meet outside the house at the chosen safe meeting spot.
Talk about next steps, like calling 911. After you have gotten to your meeting space, talk to your children about calling 911. Children old enough to understand the phone should know how to call at the first sign of an emergency. But remember, kids can sometimes think it's funny to prank call 911, so stress to them that it is against the law and carries consequences.
What fire hazards should I discuss with my children?
- Kitchen dangers: Most of the fire hazards in the home are in the kitchen. The most important lesson for young children to learn in the kitchen is that the stove is hot, and they should keep away from it when it's in use. When your children are older and ready to begin cooking for themselves, then you can instruct them further on individual appliance safety and extinguishing cooking fires.
- Matches and lighters: Playing with matches is another major source of home fires. Children as young as two-years-old can strike matches and start fires, so be sure to keep matches and lighters safely tucked away in locked drawers. Teach children not to pick up matches or lighters they may find, but to tell an adult about them immediately.
- Aerosol cans: These can explode if placed near stoves, radiators or other sources of heat.
- Candles: Candles can start fires if placed near flammable materials, and their hot wax can burn skin. Never let children light candles, and get in the habit of blowing out any candles before leaving a room.
- Electrical cords: Fraying cords can ignite a fire, so show children how to recognize them.
- Lamps: Explain that paper or cloth over a lamp can start a fire.
- Irons: Warn children to stay away from an iron standing on end.
- Christmas trees: Live Christmas trees can dry out and become highly flammable.
Remember, the best way to handle a fire is to prevent it in the first place. And if you are unfortunate enough to experience a house fire, contact your insurance agent immediately.