House fires are terrifying, especially for young children. Sometimes the firefighter in full gear is more frightening than the fire itself. Teach your children and prepare your family for a fire by establishing and practicing a fire escape plan.
Talk to your family about fire safety. Ask your children what they know, and fill in the blanks as you discuss escape routes and ways to extinguish a fire.
Plan an escape route as a family. There should be two exits from every room. Draw a map of the escape plan and post it in every occupied room of the house. Include emergency numbers on the plan.
Teach your children how to escape and how to extinguish a fire. Buy window ladders for every occupied second- or third-floor room. Show your children how to climb out the windows. Show them how to crawl under smoke to find an exit. Show them how to cover their mouths and noses with their shirts to assist breathing. Show your children how to stop, drop and roll if fire is on their person.
Designate older family members to assist very young or very old family members in the event of a fire.
Decide on a meeting spot outside the house. Have all family members meet at the gathering spot after every drill. After two people have reached the meeting spot, one should go for help.
Let children hear the fire alarm in your house. Young children become frightened and confused very easily. If an alarm goes off in the house and then the room fills with smoke, you want your child to know what to do - not hide in a closet because of fear.
Practice. Set up the fire safety plan and rehearse it at least every six months. Designate a monthly fire marshal in your house, who will set up practice dates and lead the exercise.
- Every home should have a fire extinguisher. Only try to extinguish small fires.
- Sleep with bedroom doors closed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke into bedrooms.
- Visit a fire station so your children can see a firefighter in full gear. The gear a firefighter has to wear looks very frightening to a child who is already frightened by the fire.
- Enlist your children to develop fire escape plans for a caregiver or grandparent's home.
- If you must exit using a window ladder, exit after your children. Some children may become frozen with fear and not exit the window.
- Tell your children they cannot re-enter the house to try to help or save family members or pets.