Most parents will do everything that they can to keep their children safe. Identifying risks and working out how to avoid them is something that parents start to get used to over time. Keeping your children safe if there is a fire should be a high priority. Making a fire plan with your children can help you to keep them safe.
Why you should make a fire plan with your kids
It is virtually impossible to completely fireproof any home, so it is important that you create a plan to help to keep everyone in the household safe. Fire can spread very quickly through a home, so being able to act decisively can make the difference between life and death. Working out a plan with your children can help you to make sure that they know what they need to do and where they need to go. Talking through the plan with them in advance can also help them to stay calmer if there is an incident. They will know what to do if you are not able to help them.
Coming up with a fire plan
When you are making a fire plan for your home, you should make an accurate map of your house. If you have younger children, making this map can actually be made into a fun task. Creating a funky map of your property may help them to remember what to do in an emergency situation. A good place to start with creating a fire plan is by downloading and printing off this free pdf from Sparky.org.
Once you have come up with a map of the property, you can agree on a primary escape route from the building. This route normally leads out through the front door of the home, but it may be a different route if there is actually a quicker way out. A good primary escape route will go through as few rooms as possible. If you have a larger house, there may actually be multiple primary escape routes, which are dependent on where family members are sited in the building when the fire is discovered. Devise secondary escape routes for if the primary route is blocked by the fire.
Talk about what to do if your children come up against closed doors when they are leaving your home. Opening a door can be dangerous if fire has already spread to the room behind. Always check the door with the back of your hand before you open it. If the door feels warmer than normal, it is highly likely that fire has already spread to the room behind. Do not open the door as this could cause a backdraught.
Identify a point outside of the building where you can all meet up if you have to evacuate the building separately. This point should be far enough away from the building so that none of you are put at any risk. Teach your children to wait at the agreed point until all of the family members are out of the building. They should never go back into the building for anything or anyone because this could put them at risk.
Teach children to think about their safety first. Talk to them about the importance of getting out of the building without stopping to pick up their favourite toys and games. Their games are replaceable but they are not!
Speak to them about the dangers of smoke inhalation. Try not to frighten younger children when talking about smoke inhalation, but make sure that they understand how important it is for them to avoid smoky areas. If your children are forced to travel through a smoke-filled room in order to escape from the building then you should make sure that they know to stay as low to the ground as possible. Smoke rises and the air at ground level is normally much cleaner and safer. It can be fun to practice crawling as part of a fire drill at your home. This will make it seem less scary if they have to do it in a real fire situation.
If you have fire safety equipment in your home, you should teach your children how to use it properly as soon as they are old enough. Make sure that they understand not to play with the equipment if there is not a fire. Tampering with fire equipment may mean that it doesn’t work properly when it needs to.
The first piece of safety equipment that most children are able to use is the phone. Teach them how to use a phone to call 999. Show them that it is possible to call 999 even if the mobile phone is locked. Make sure that they can know your address so that they can direct the emergency services to your home as quickly as possible. Always make sure that you are outside of the building before calling the emergency services.
Explain what a fire blanket is and when they should use one. These blankets are normally only used and stored in the kitchen, so make sure that your children understand why this is. If they are old enough to use the cooker, you should teach them how and when to use a fire blanket.
Fire extinguishers are also important pieces of safety equipment which can be harmful if they are used incorrectly. Most homes will only have one type of fire extinguisher (if any), but if you do have more than one extinguishers, then you should make sure that your children know what each different type of extinguisher is for.
Fire safety equipment may be an important part of your fire safety plan with your kids, but you should let them know that they do not have to try to use it if it would be unsafe to do so. Talk to them about how to analyse the situation so that they will know whether they should try to use the equipment or get themselves out of the building. They need to understand that their safety is always the priority in the event of a fire.