Teaching Children Fire Safety
Your children can be either the world’s best fire marshal or your biggest fire hazard depending on what you teach them or neglect to teach them about fire safety. Just as Smoky the Bear used to say “its up to you to prevent forest fires,” it is up to us as parents to help prevent home fires, and that starts with our children.
Fire safety includes not just what to do in case of a fire, but how to prevent fires from starting in the home. There are so many incredible resources to enable us to teach them on their level with accurate and effective information.
Related Read: 8 Tips to Prevent Home Fires
As the paranoid mother of 4, I have had a lot of practice drilling fire safety and prevention into my children and would like to share some of our family’s personal favorites.
DVD’s on Fire Safety
There are some awesome DVD’s on fire safety that won’t terrify your children. Our family favorites include Bill Nye the Science Guy’s Safety first videos and Fire Safety with Timon and Pumba. Luckily these usually come in a set from Disney. Bill works on all educational levels for explaining and demonstrating the Why’s of Fire Safety.
Timon and Pumba though have a knack (albeit annoying to most parents) for presenting safety tips in jingles and rhymes that literally stick in your head. My daughter was singing their “3 feet from the heat” jingle this morning and we haven’t watched that DVD in months, let alone even have our heaters out yet.
- Safety Smart Science with Bill Nye the Science Guy – Electricity, Fire
- Wild about Safety with Timon and Pumba
- TV shows – Rescue Hero’s (Qubo Channel) http://www.qubo.com/index.php?path=show&id=19
Workbooks and Coloring Books
If your local fire station holds a community open house you’ll get tons of these. These open houses are a great way to get your family excited about fire safety, comfortable with the men in uniform, and have a great family outing as well.
A lot of these books and activities are available online for free. If you really want to nail preparedness down then there’s a ton of them around disaster preparedness all of which include fire safety.
Teens workbook -FEMA’s “Ready – Set – Prepare”
See the sites listed below for more downloads.
Online Games and Websites for Fire Safety
The internet is the favorite play toy of every computer savvy child. Take advantage of their ability to zone out and completely focus on what’s on the computer screen to teach them fire safety, or even disaster safety.
- http://www.ready.gov/parents-teachers – FEMA’s website for parents and teachers with resources for teaching children about preparedness.
- www.sparky.org – Sparky the Firedog invites kids to learn about fire safety through interactive web games, downloadable coloring pages, and other activities.
- www.smokeybear.com/kids – Smokey the Bear helps kids learn about fire safety through an interactive web site with games and activities.
- www.ready.gov/kids/fun-games – FEMA’s website for kids with games, comic strips, coloring pages, and music.
- http://www.usfa.fema.gov/kids/flash.shtm – US Fire Administration’s website specifically for fire safety.
- http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/ready – Sesame Street videos for kids teach about having an emergency plan and being prepared; also has games, coloring pages, and more.
- www.justincasearizona.com/educator-toolkit/toolkits.asp – memory game, scavenger hunt, coloring pages, songs, worksheets, home hazard hunt checklist.
- http://www.neok12.com/Natural-Disasters.htm – disaster education videos and games.
- Magic School Bus has fire safety quizzes and games on their site – look at games and quizzes, and parent/teacher lesson plans and parties.
- AreaVibes has even more resources broken down by age.
Books for Teaching Fire Safety
Reading should be a big part of every kid’s life. So here are some good fire safety reads:
- “A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe Around Fire” by Maribeth Boelts
- “The Magic School Bus To the Rescue: Forest Fire” by Joanna Cole
- “A Chair for My Mother” by Vera B Williams
- “Dot the Fire Dog” by Lisa Desimini
- “Clifford the Firehouse Dog” (over 126 million copies sold) by Norman Bridwell
- “Arthur’s Fire Drill” by Marc Brown
- “Stop, Drop and Roll” by Margery Cuyler
Scouting Resources for Fire Safety
I love scouting! They aren’t kidding when they say a scout is always prepared. There’s a reason for that – merit badges, belt loops, and pins. There are so many ways that you can teach safety and preparedness skills and lifestyle to your children and family through scouting.
The best part is that everything is available online for free. Just because you’re child isn’t in scouts or you have all girls, doesn’t mean you can’t go online, print off the requirements and their handy worksheet and complete the merit badge yourself.
However you can only get the patches, pins and belt loops if you’re a scout.
- Citizenship belt loop and pin- http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Cub_Scout_Citizenship
- Webelos – Ready man – http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Readyman/
- Emergency Preparedness Award – all scouts http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Emergency_Preparedness_Award – all scouts
- Emergency Preparedness Merit badge –http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Emergency_Preparedness
- Fire Safety Merit Badge – http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Fire_Safety
- Firem’n chit- (certified to carry matches and build fires) http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php/Firem%27n_Chit
Fire Safety Museums
Yes there are fire safety museums, at least in Portland. Chances are if you live in or near a large city you probably have one too. Portland’s happens to be my favorite price – FREE!
Safety Learning Center and Fire Museum at the Historic Belmont Firehouse
900 SE 35th Ave, Portland, OR www.jeffmorrisfoundation.org.
Practice Fire Drills with the Little Ones
Grownups but especially kids remember things and retain them longer if they put theory into practice. On a weekend, start practicing fire drills with your little angels. Put everything into context to get them interested.
For instance, don’t just force them to participate in a fire drill because you said so. With patience, tell them more about how easily home fires can start. You can come up with real life stories about burnt down homes from home heaters or frying pans left unattended. But don’t get too graphic. The goal is to educate them and help them feel more confident about being able to handle a home fire, not to traumatize them for life.
You can practice fire drills a couple of times per year, but monthly it is best. Your fire drills can include various exercises like:
- Don’t Hide, Go Outside! You need to teach them them this life-saving advice from early childhood. Kids have the natural instinct to hide when things go haywire and they’re afraid. They need to learn that as soon as the smoke alarm goes off or they sense smoke or see fire, they should run outside and cry for help.
- Get Down & Go Go Go. Most causes of death in fire victims are related to carbon dioxide poisoning. Let your kids know that inhaling the smoke can put their lives in peril, and that the safest way to get outside is getting down low and crawl to the nearest exit.
- Stop, Drop and Roll. This drill is critical to teach children how to put the flames out if their clothing is on fire. Tell them not to panic or run around as they will only make things worse. Show them how to stop, drop to the floor, and roll back and forth with their hands covering their eyes and mouth until the fire is out. Practice makes it perfect.
Local Fire Station – the Ultimate in Fire Safety
Everyone has one of these and one thing firemen are passionate about sharing is fire safety. After all it’s a high stress job and the more they can share and change the community’s habits the less high stress situations they have to face. They also have the amazing first hand knowledge and experience that you can’t get anywhere else.
Related Read: Prepared for Christmas: Fire Safety Gifts
Kids adore firemen so a visit to your local fire station is like visiting the local superhero hide out. They will usually accommodate any group from preschool to high school to families.
I’ve even heard of some fire stations doing birthday parties! All you have to do is call and schedule an appointment, and then be prepared to be left behind if they get a call while you’re there.