How to Discuss a Fire Safety Plan with Your Kids
We all know the importance of having a fire safety plan so that everyone can escape safely if ever a fire happened at home. However, discussing fires and emergency situations with kids is a serious and potentially unsettling topic. So it is important to consider how to discuss this with them.
When to Discuss a Fire Safety Plan
Everyone needs a fire safety plan, so if you don’t have one already, now is the perfect time to make one. On June 22nd 2018, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services is holding a Facebook event called Queensland’s Great Escape. It is a night for families to practise a fire drill. You can find out more here, and join the event by visiting the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Facebook event page.
It is good to discuss a fire safety plan when all members of the household are at home, and when you have enough time to go over it thoroughly and respond to any questions or concerns the kids may have. It’s also important to discuss a fire safety plan whenever you move into a new house or if anyone new moves into your home.
How to Talk to Kids about Fire Safety
It is important to make sure talks around fire safety are age appropriate and delivered in a way that will not cause kids too much alarm. Imagine how terrifying it would be for a child to fear for their safety in their own homes! We definitely need to make sure they don’t think their house is likely to burn down at any given moment. Reassure them that it’s unlikely but something that we have to talk about just to make sure everyone is kept safe.
It is also good to try and make the discussion fun and engaging, rather than a lecture. When you are discussing possible exit points from a room, go to that room and explore the options together. Get the kids to practise feeling a door for heat before touching the handle. When you’re talking about escape routes, get everyone to crawl along, like they would if avoiding smoke inhalation. Or even play a game of blind man’s bluff to get out of the house, which is fun but can prepare them for if they needed to find their way out in the dark or thick smoke.
What to Discuss
What to discuss will depend on the age of your children. For example, for really young kids, it might not be appropriate to talk about how to escape on their own, as it might be overwhelming for them to think you wouldn’t be with them in a very scary situation. Telling a toddler how to climb out of a window or open the front door might also potentially be more of a safety hazard than a help!
QFES has a great online tool to help you create your fire escape plan, that covers everything you need to talk about so that everyone knows what to do if a fire breaks out. You can read all about that on their website at www.qld.gov.au/fireescapeplan.
We should also discuss the causes of fires and how to avoid fires. You can find out about The Biggest Fire Dangers in Your Home here. Coming up with a Fire Safety Plan is your next step – check out our guide here to help you put your plan together.
It is also important to teach kids about Triple Zero (000). For little kids, make sure they know that the number to call is zero, zero, zero, as they may not know what ‘triple’ means. There is a great app for kids called Triple Zero Kids’ Challenge, which teaches them when to call Triple Zero (000) and also replicates the real act of dialling the number and speaking to the operator, so kids know what to expect.
What to Do Next
Remember to practise your fire escape plan regularly so that kids do not panic if they ever have to evacuate the house. You can use the fire escape timer here to make this fun for kids.
Check out the awesome Kids’ Corner on the QFES website. It has a cool Fire Safety Koala mascot and loads of fun things to kids to do to teach them about fire safety, including craft activities, games and quizzes.
Also, please remember to check your smoke alarms. The legislation for smoke alarms has changed recently. To give your family the best chance of surviving a house fire, QFES recommends updating your smoke alarms to match the new legislation as soon as you can. In the meantime, make sure all your alarms are working and properly maintained. You can find out more about the smoke alarm legislation here.
Your kids can get involved in Queensland’s Great Escape on June 22nd, 2018. By joining the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Facebook event, you can learn how to keep your family safe.