No one likes to think about a fire tearing through their home. In fact, any type of disaster, man-made, natural, or otherwise, is something we'd rather not linger on. However, making sure that your kids know what to do in these situations is of tremendous importance. It's not an easy subject to discuss with little ones, but you'll thank your lucky stars you did if you ever find yourself in a threatening situation.
The U.S Fire Administration has joined forces with several other organizations to come up with a simple way to remember fire safety guidelines for children under five. Known as the three P's, it stands for: Prepare - reduce the risk of fires in your home by eliminating hazards, Practice - Practice a home fire evacuation plan and general fire safety practices, and Prevent - The Unthinkable.
Test your smoke alarms. It goes without saying that all homes should have smoke alarms fitted, especially if you've got children. According to statistics, three out of five home fire deaths from 2010-2014 could've been avoided if a smoke alarm was fitted. These alarms can buy your family precious minutes by letting you know what's going on before the fire spreads too far. If you don't have one, your local fire department could assist you. Some even provide alarms for free. The U.S. Fire Administration advises residents to install an alarm on every floor of their home. It's also important to test them regularly to ensure they're working, and change the battery every six months.
Ditch the extension leads. Extension leads can be more dangerous than we think, especially when they're overloaded. While they are tested, it's not a good idea to ram the circuit with too much power. Avoid plugging in too many items and instead, look at having more wall sockets installed.
Avoid mountains of clutter. Family life is incredibly busy, which can lead to piles of things in unlikely places. Folded laundry on the stairs, stacks of school letters on the kitchen worktops - while these may seem like innocent things, in the event of a fire they can be deadly. These are the types of things that catch fire easily and turn a small fire into a huge one. Not only that but clutter in hallways could cause an obstruction if you need to evacuate the house quickly.
Create a home escape plan. In the event of a fire, we all know the main thing is to get out of the house. Regardless of whether you live in an apartment block or a three-story townhouse, it's time to put a plan in place. Sit down with your kids and draw a diagram of your home, letting them know where they need to go if a fire breaks out. Even toddlers can get to grips with this, as long as you physically practice it enough with them. Be sure to establish a safe meeting place away from the home, such as at the end of the street.
Teach kids these important safety rules. Let them know about the Stop, Drop and Roll technique should their clothes catch fire. What's more, tell them how smoke rises and they should always crawl through rooms and hallways to avoid deadly smoke inhalation. Touching doors before they open them is vital too. If it's hot, don't open it. Be sure that they know re-entering a burning building is absurd, no matter how much they want to save something - or someone.
Be vigilant. Rules around fire in general should be established early on. For instance, teach kids that matches and lighters are not toys, but tools to be used by adults. Should they ever find anything like that, they need to give it up to an adult straight away. Never leave them alone in the proximity of an open flame or anything hot, like stoves, candles or even portable heaters. The more you let them know that fire is not to be messed with, the less likely it is that you'll have problems in the future. No one wants a curious toddler starting a forest fire just to see how something burns.