Fire Safety Teaching for Children

Fire Safety Teaching for Children

Are your children aware of the risks of fire? Do they know what to do in the event of a fire? Do you have the best fire safety equipment accessible in your home including fire safety masks designed to be the right fit for young children? Do your children even know your address if they had to call 999? If the answer is no to any of these questions then now is the time to make this right and ensure your children are aware of the dangers and can act effectively if the worst was to happen.

The child’s risk of harm from fires in the home

Children are at a high risk of severe injury or death if a fire happens in the home due to a lack of knowledge of what to do or not being supported by a prepared adult. Over 400 children under the age of 11 are injured and 4 are killed in accidental fires in the home in England every year [source].

This does not include figures for fires intentionally started. Spend just a short time explaining the risks with several repeats of this information to make them fully absorb the information. By providing fire safety teaching to your children, giving them the details of your evacuation plan and how to use their fire safety masks to prevent smoke inhalation can help prevent the tragic events that can and do happen.

Here is some simple advice to follow to keep children safe from the dangers of fire:

  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm and teach the child what the alarm is for
  • Ensure a fire escape route is made clear of any toys or clutter
  • Make sure your fire safety mask is suitable for the age of the child and that they know how to put it on
  • Do not leave children alone with fire – this includes burning candles 
  • Place lighters, matches and burning candles out of reach of children
  • Lock up any flammable liquids or make sure the child cannot get hold of them
  • Use guards on your plug sockets, to prevent little fingers putting small objects inside
  • Ensure heaters and open fires are well placed or well protected from children
  • When cooking in the kitchen, do not leave the child alone or allow them to play close to the oven and hob.

The fire safety teaching should also include educating on how to prevent a fire. The child should be told:

  • To tell an adult if they find any matches or lighters in the house
  • Not to play near to heaters, ovens, or open fires
  • Never to play with the cooker or switch it on
  • Not to touch anything on the kitchen side or hob such as saucepans
  • Never to place anything on top of heaters or lamps

In general, you should explain to a child over five years the reasons why these actions will prevent a fire and the dangers associated with them. A child under five years is not likely to fully understand therefore clear rules should be put in place.

The harm a child can cause through playing with fire

Fire is fun for children. It’s warm, enticing colours flicker and attracts, whilst wiser adults surrounding them tell them that wishes can come true if they go close and blow. We all love this, this is part of growing up, lighting up the candles on the cake to celebrate another year toward being a big boy or girl. Or sitting by a bonfire or fire pit on a cold night, roasting marshmallows with the family. This, however, can encourage a child’s fascination with fire and the London fire brigade say that 1 in 4 fires in London is started by children or young people!

Appropriate warnings of the dangers of playing with fire are absolutely necessary at an early stage in the child’s life to help prevent an obsession with it and adults should show the child sensible care when handling fire by making statements such as “don’t go too close, it is dangerous and will burn you”.

There are many signs to watch out for if you think your child or young person is playing with fire, such as burns in the carpets or evidence of burned paper found in bins. If you are worried about this then seek immediate expert advice from your local fire brigade – this compulsion to make things burn can have disastrous consequences.

What to do in the event of a fire

A child who has not been made aware of the risks of fire and what to do if it happens has a much greater risk of severe harm. Share fire safety messages with your children so they can act quickly and sensibly. 

The general advice to teach the child is:

  • To tell an adult straight away if the child finds a fire
  • Get out of the building as quickly as possible and don’t go back in for any reason
  • Use a phone to call 999 and ask for the fire service and give the address
  • If there is smoke ensure they know how to use their fire safety mask, and get down low by crawling along the floor.
  • If the exit route is blocked then teach the child to go into the nearest room with a window and shout “HELP, FIRE!” if they can safely open the window.

Each and every child is different and you are the best person to decide what your child can fully understand and what fire safety teaching is needed for your children and expert advice should always be followed. However, simple advice now with the correct equipment such as smoke alarms and a child fire safety mask could help keep your children safe from the risks of fire