Talking to your kids about fire safety as early as possible is important to prepare them in the case of an emergency. We interviewed a Chicago Firefighter and Paramedic to help bring you the best tips for educating your family on home fire safety. Keep reading to learn more!
1. Talk to your children about fire safety
Don’t let an emergency be the first time your children are exposed to best practices for fire safety. As parents, it can seem counterintuitive to talk to our kids about something that could be scary. However, it is much safer for your child to know HOW to react in emergency situations than to be oblivious to how to keep themselves safe. Empower your child to make safe decisions.
Fire safety education resources such as Sparky the Fire Dog through the National Fire Protection Association offers games, stories, videos, and other activities to teach your child about what to do to keep themselves safe in a fire. Familiarize your child with how firefighters, paramedics, police officers and other community supports might look. Talk about their uniforms, equipment, and tools. Remind your child that a firefighter might look a little scary with his or her gear on, but they are always there to help keep your family safe.
2. Visit your local firehouse
Firehouses are community hubs of support for families. Most, if not all, firehouses offer community education, such as CPR, AED & First Aid classes, car seat installation supports (make sure they are a certified car seat technician or book a consult with Renée below!) & medication disposal services. Your local fire house is an amazing resource for familiarizing your children with firefighters and normalizing how they might look, the tools they might carry and the vehicles & equipment they might have with them during an emergency. Go ring the doorbell and say hi! Odds are, your local firefighters will be more than happy to give you a tour, talk to your children about what they do, show your children their gear, answer questions, and maybe even let them sit in the engine!
*Note: Firehouse tours and visits, unfortunately, are not encouraged during COVID-19. Many firehouses are not open to the public currently.
CPR consults through Bumblebaby: Did you know that Kate offers a refresher online infant and child CPR class for 0-12 years? Click here and use code BUMBLE15 for discount.
Kate, Lauren and Natalie also offer in-person CPR classes if you live in the Chicagoland area!
Car seat consults through Bumblebaby: Renée is a national certified car seat technician and can help you install your car seat and/or booster seat in-person or virtually!. Click here to book your car seat consult with her today.
3. Have a plan!
Go through your home and identify two escape routes per room (i.e. a door or window, depending on where a fire is located in your home). If you have architectural plans of your home, mark those routes on the plans to give yourself a visual of how an escape plan would work. Remind yourself that we are creatures of habit – in an emergency, you are most likely to follow your routine – so, if your family typically enters and exits the house through the back door, your instinct will be to go toward the back door. Actively practice alternatives to this. What if there is a fire blocking that back door? Walk through different scenarios as a family.
Identify a location in the front of your home (where emergency vehicles would pull up in the event of an emergency) where all family members know to meet if they had to evacuate. This way, even if your family is separated during an emergency, you will know whether or not everyone is outside at the meeting place. Practice the plan with your family, including your children. Try problem solving with your children! Ask them about what they would or could do during emergency situations in your home – do they know to go outside if they see a fire? Do they know how to unlock doors and push them open to get out?
4. Prep your home for fire safety
Fires can happen anywhere. However, there are many things that families can do to help prevent this type of emergency in their homes.
Inside your home:
- Install smoke alarms in your home. Change out the batteries often. A good time to change your batteries is when you change your clocks forward and back for Daylight Savings Time. Test your smoke alarms often and replace them altogether every few years. Smoke alarms are the first line of defense for keeping your family safe if there is a fire in your home.
- Install Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms in your home. These alarms monitor CO, which is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause serious harm to your family. A CO leak in your home could be caused by a malfunctioning clothes dryer, furnace, oven, fireplace, etc. A CO alarm alerts your family of the chemical’s presence in your home. The Google Nest Protect
- Keep fire extinguishers in your home and know how to use them.
- Remember the mnemonic PASS
- Pull (the pin)
- Aim (toward the base of the flame)
- Squeeze (the extinguisher)
- Sweep (spray in a sweeping motion)) to utilize the extinguisher
- Keep an updated medication and medical history list in an easily accessible spot in your home for all family members – this will be helpful if paramedics arrive for any medical emergency. This red medical wallet is easy to spot and store your family’s medical information.
- Keep important documents in a fire-proof bag or fire-proof box (good for storing essential documents like birth certificates, social security cards, will/power of attorney, etc.)
- Depending on the layout of your home, invest in escape products such as a fire escape ladder for second story bedrooms.
However, note that these items are really only practical if your family members know how to use them and have actively practiced using them. If an item like a ladder is sitting in a closet and the first time it’s opened is during an emergency, it will likely render itself useless.
Outside your home:
- Have visible house numbers on the outside of your home so that emergency services know where to find you if you call them to your home
- Shovel your driveway & walk after snowfall so that emergency services can get to your home safely
- If a fire hydrant is located on your property, keep it free of obstructions. This includes shoveling it out after snowfall!
- Call your local fire department if you notice a hydrant in your neighborhood needing maintenance.
- Keep fire pits & grills a safe distance from your home and keep a hose or bucket nearby to use in the event of an emergency
For more information on fire safety, check out the NFPA Website.
Have more questions about home safety? Checkout our home safety e-guide which has baby-proofing recommendations to keep your family safe from falls, burns, drowning and more.
**This post is educational and not meant to take the place of your provider. Bumblebaby makes a small commission on some of the items listed above