Yesterday, my toddler and I had the pleasure of taking a tour of our local fire station. Our church group arranged a visit with a few of the first responders. It was a great activity for my toddler. He knows so much about fire trucks and he was so excited to see a truck in person and touch it with his own hands! The firefighters were very patient with our team of toddlers, explaining all of the different rooms in the fire station in simple terms. Of course, they quizzed us all on basic fire safety before we began the tour. Most of us missed a few of the answers. Oops! I‘m glad to say I learned just as much as my toddler did by the time we left. Some of the fire safety tips were new to me, so I wanted to share them with you. No matter where you live, these kid-friendly fire safety tips will keep your family safe and sound.
TIP: Always have two exits available in every room.
Practice An Emergency Evacuation Route
As a family, choose a safe location away from your home to meet after evacuating. Children are surprisingly resilient in the face of chaos - so long as they are practiced and familiar with a set “plan”. Map out exits for each room in your home, then practice leaving your home quickly and meeting at your designated safe meeting zone.
TIP: Use a neighbor’s phone to call emergency services.
Don’t Go Back Inside A Burning House
Parents, I understand just how gut-wrenching this is to consider. I have two toddlers of my own - a house fire is a real nightmare to me. If you safely exit your home, do not re-enter the building. Our tour guide reminded us that most people who re-enter burning buildings do not survive. It’s important that you remain outside to give information to the firefighters on your family’s location.
TIP: Schedule a calendar event to test your smoke alarms monthly.
Invest In A Talking Fire Alarm
Standard fire alarms issue a high-pitched shrill shriek that pierces your eardrums. It’s awful! That screeching “beep-beep-beep” can wake even the heaviest of sleepers. Unfortunately, kids - especially babies and toddlers - have been shown to hide from the noise. They might even burrow under the covers instead of running out of the home. Fire safety is always evolving - and new talking fire alarms make families with babies and toddlers safer in a fire. Some models even allow parents to record a greeting in their own voice! I’ll be looking for one of those customizable fire alarms myself.
TIP: Practice Stop, Drop, & Roll!
Put Fire Extinguishers Near Exits
One of the best tips that the firefighters shared focused on fire extinguishers in the home. Of course, every home should have at least one fire extinguisher. Key places to cover are major appliances, kitchens, and grill areas or patios. I always felt having a fire extinguisher near the stove was the smartest option in the home. It turns out, you should place your fire extinguisher near an exit. When you reach for it to put out a fire, you’ll be standing near an exit. If you turn around and the fire has engulfed the room, you can still safely exit. The key is to keep an open path to get out quickly.
Our visit culminated in a real emergency call-out for the team in Engine 1, the busiest engine in the city. I pulled Shep out of the way and we watched the firefighters calmly “scramble” to help someone. I reminded Shep that the firefighters were those helpers that Mister Rogers talks about when he tells us to “look out for the helpers” in times of need. Mostly I’m glad to learn about family fire safety to help my kids - and yours!