Teaching Children to be Fire Ready. Making a family Fire Plan

Mar 19, 2013

This post is sponsored by Nuffnang

Living in Victoria means that we are at real risk of fires. Despite the fact that we live in a residential suburban area we are on the urban fringe and therefore, still at risk of fire. 

Did you know?...In strong winds, embers can travel up to 35 kilometres in front of a fire, starting new fires. People who travel or holiday in high risk bushfire areas are also at risk of bushfire. Even people considering a day trip should be prepared. (CFA)

Living in a bush fire prone area or even on the fringe means that you must be Fire Ready.
You need a plan of action and to be prepared long before any fires are actually around. You can read more about how to make a plan with this Fire Ready Kit.

However, even if you don't live in any of those areas at all, there is always a risk that your house may catch fire regardless of where you live. 
It is important that you have a family plan of action if the worst was to happen and that your children are aware of what they should do in case of a fire.

Making a Family Friendly Fire Plan

As a parent it is my duty to look after my children. In the event of a fire a parent's first priority would be to get their children out of the house. This is especially the case with very young children whom would be incapable of leaving on their own.

I know that we would be doing everything in our power to get to our children and get them outside, so thinking about preparing them to be independent in the case of an emergency is something that is easy to let slip. Use this as your reminder to consider what your child knows and is capable of understanding and think about what they could and should know.

The plan that you make with your child has to be age appropriate.
Start by having a think about what they are capable of for their age and make sure any instructions you're giving them are both achievable by them and aren't going to scare them. 

Teaching Children to be Fire Ready

Here are the lessons that we felt were appropriate for our 4 year old (and older kids) to learn in order to be fire ready.

1) Learning about the Smoke Detector

A smoke detector should be checked monthly to ensure that it is always working. You should have smoke detectors installed outside all bedrooms and on each level of the house.

How to teach your child
  • Let your child help you test the smoke detector on a regular basis. What a loud sound!
  • Have your child lay in bed with the door shut and let them experience what they would hear if it were to go off
  • Make a plan with your child about what they should do if they hear the smoke detector going off. (Should they stay where they are or leave?)
  • Try a test run with your kids in the middle of the night. Does the alarm wake them? (we're yet to do this one)

2) How to Escape

Your child should know how to escape safely from each room in the house. You should have 2 different exits planned from each room.

How to teach your child
  • Starting with their bedroom, have your child find the best way to get out of each room and then have them find an alternative exit in case one is blocked
  • Practice how they would leave
  • Reinforce the understanding that things like going through a window are for emergency only. (And make sure your child understands what would be considered an emergency and what wouldn't!)

3) Staying Safe

There are a few tips that could help your child safely escape from a fire that they should know.

How to teach your child
  • Talk to your child about what they should take with them and let them know that there is NO time to grab our favourite toy or anything. (Can we buy another toy? Yes. Can we buy another blanket? Yes. Take more photos? Yes. Buy another Maddie? NO!)
  • Teach your children to check for fire danger before opening a door by pressing their hand against it to see if it is hot.
  • Let your child know that if the door is hot they should not open it and need to go to their alternative exit.
  • Teach your child that it is very dangerous to breath in smoke and should be avoided. Show them how to cover their mouth and nose and if there is a lot of smoke, children should get down low and go, go, go! Have a practice, they love this!

4) Where to go

You should have a pre-arranged, safe meeting point away from the house and an alternative meeting point in case the first isn't viable. Each property and neighbourhood is different which is why you need to make your own plan and practice it first.

How to teach your child
  • Make sure that your child is aware of where they should go once they have gotten out of the house
  • Practice going to this spot 
  • Talk about and make sure your child is aware of a second meeting point

5) Other things children should know to be Fire Ready

  • Fire is dangerous. They are not to play with fire or anything that could cause a fire.
  • The emergency number for the fire department is 000
  • Their name and home address
  • They are not to go back into the house under any circumstances
  • Should they go to a neighbour's house to alert them? (Discuss this with your own family)

For more information and to keep up to date on any fires in Victoria check out the CFA Website, their facebook page and follow them on twitter. Or check local fire services in your area.

Do you have any other ways that you have taught your children to be Fire Ready? Please Share.

{Disclosure: I was compensated for writing this post.}

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