Do you ever sit down as a family to discuss home fire-safety? If not, now is the best time to start!
Children tend to learn about fire safety awareness at school and many of them practice fire drills regularly. Similarly, it’s vital to educate your children on fire prevention from a young age, emphasizing the importance of safety in the home. By proactively engaging your children in these conversations, you’re taking the first step towards prevention in your home.
Before speaking with your little ones about home-fire-safety, it’s important to understand some of the common in-home hazards and how to prepare your family. Kidde (North America’s leading fire safety brand*) wants to make sure that every home is safe and that everyone has the tools to protect the people, places and things that matter most to them.
With this in mind, let’s look at 3 common household fire hazards and simple tips to help you keep your family and home safe:
Playing with Fire:
It’s normal for children to be naturally curious about fire. They may ask questions such as “how hot is fire?” or show an interest through playing with fire trucks or cooking on a play stove. This is healthy, and an opportunity to begin education as they often don’t understand the dangers that can result from playing with fire or flames. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Store matches and lighters out of children’s reach and sight, up high, preferably in a locked cabinet or container.
- Many fires happen when young children are left alone and have access to matches and lighters. Parents must have clear rules and consequences about fire misuse.
- Teach children to tell a grown-up if they see matches or lighters. Children need to understand that fire is difficult to control, it is fast and can hurt as soon as it touches you.
- Never assign a young child any tasks that involve the use of a lighter or matches (lighting candles, bringing a lighter to an adult to light a cigarette or the fireplace, etc.)
- Use only lighters designed with child-resistant features. But remember, child-resistant does not mean child-proof.
- It’s also a good idea to do periodic sweeps for any flammable objects your child may have stowed away in their bedroom while you weren’t paying attention, as research shows that over half of child-playing fires in the home occur in a bedroom.
- FireSmart B.C. has great educational materials for children of all ages. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) also provides resources for parents including videos, workbooks, and activities featuring the beloved fire-safety ambassador, Sparky the Fire Dog.
Lack of a Fire Escape Plan at Home
Fire safety is all about preparedness and it’s important that children know what to do in the event of a home fire. Create a fire escape plan with your family. It’s a fun family activity and it could be a literal lifesaver.
- Draw a map of your home including all doors and windows.
- Find 2 ways out of each room if you can. All windows and doors should open easily.
- Have escape ladders in upstairs rooms.
- Pick a meeting place outside.
- Practice regularly, both day and night.
- Practice twice a year. For example, once at the beginning of the school year, and again at the end.
- Make it a family activity. For a fun worksheet on how to create a plan, visit the NFPA
Remember, if the smoke or CO alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside. Children, especially those playing with “off-limits” appliances, may fear their parents’ reactions, and/or may hide under beds or in closets, believing this will protect them from fires. Kidde encourages parents to teach children that getting outside is the priority in case of a fire.
Outdated Fire Detection Systems
One of the most important ways you can help keep your children protected from fire-related accidents, is to make sure your home is equipped with a fully-up-to date smoke detection system. Working smoke alarms can double the chances of escaping a home fire safely. Here are a few critical reminders and safety tips:
- Replace your smoke detector at least once every 10 years.
- Do regular maintenance tests. You should be testing your smoke alarm at least once per month by pressing the test button on the device.
- Not sure when you test/replace your alarm? If you have a hard time remembering to check your smoke alarm, a smart home system could support you with monthly reminders and many more features. Smart home systems, like Kidde’s Smart Detection devices, are a great option as they provide instant notifications to your smartphone to test or replace your smoke alarm, or if hazards are detected in your home. This can also provide peace of mind even when you are not home.
Fire-related accidents involving children can happen. But, by understanding some of the common reasons why they happen and taking a proactive approach, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of an accident occurring in your home and keep your family safe!
For more home fire safety tips and information visit: https://www.kidde.com/fire-safety/en/ca/fire-safety/
Stephanie Berzinski is a Safety Educator and the Senior Manager, External Communications at Kidde, North America’s #1 home fire safety brand*. Stephanie joined Carrier (Kidde’s parent organization) in the Fire & Security segment in 2018, supporting the launch of the Healthy Buildings and Healthy Homes campaigns, as well as the 2022 Cause for Alarm campaign.