Young children need to understand the key elements of fire safety as much as adults - in some ways more so. Many fires in the home occur at night while everyone is asleep. In these instances children may panic and if they are unaware of what to do have been known to try to hide under a bed or in a cupboard. Just about the worst place for them. When explaining fire safety it's important not to scare them, but it is information that could save their lives. For young children explaining the risk and what action to take can be incorporated into a 'fire drill game', an effective way to engage their attention without scaring them!
- Make sure that children know to crawl below smoke - the biggest killer in fires.
- Teach them to check doors to see if they are hot before using metal door fittings and to use an alternative route if this is the case.
- Be clear where escape routes are and ensure they know to use them before looking for you.
- Never leave children, especially young children, alone in the kitchen where food is being cooked.
- Tell children how to get help by dialing 999 or raising the alarm with neighbours and explain that they must never re-enter a burning building, even if someone is missing.
Teaching self-reliance saves lives
Consider organising a 'play' fire drill involving neighbours and their children. Although it is not something any of us want to think about, never assume you will be in a position to save your own children in a house fire. It's important that children are taught early to be self-reliant in the event of a fire and to get out safely and stay out. Hopefully you and your family will never need to put into practice your fire safety skills, but if you do, preparation can make all the difference.
For adults there are some simple tasks that you can complete regularly to ensure that you minimise the risk of fire breaking out in the first place. Electrical appliances should be turned off overnight. Sockets should not be overloaded as they can easily over heat. Install smoke alarms if you don't already have them and check them once a month. Children can be included in this task which is a way to raise their awareness of fire safety without frightening them! Keep an eye on what they have plugged in, in their own rooms, and rectify any problems explaining why you are doing so.