Over the years, fire safety awareness has increasingly become crucial. According to WHO, over 1,000,000 Indians are moderately or severely burned every year. Women and children are the most susceptible to burns; it being the 11th leading cause of fatal injuries in children aged 1-9 years.
With Fire Safety Awareness and prevention strategies being taught to young children, these casualties can be cut down effectively.
Here are some ways to introduce and implement fire safety for kids:
Basic Fire Safety:
Start by teaching the kids about basic fire safety. This will include making them aware of things that they are not supposed to touch or play with, or places they should not get too close to; for example, burner stove, fireplace, vacuum cleaner, etc. You can also mark areas that home labeling them as a “No-Go” zone. A phrase that is easy to remember goes a long way in implanting caution in children who are too young. Practice “Stop, Drop and Roll” as a fun game. Also, mark a safe meeting spot outside of home or school in the case of a fire incident and practice meeting there.
A trip to the fire station is valuable in that it gives kids a fair idea about the concept of fire safety in situations that are too big to control. Arrange an educational tour with your local fire station, and start by giving the kids the basic idea of fire emergencies and the need for safety. Ensure that gory details that may terrify them are left out, but instead offer them the clarity to grasp how ignorance leads to incidents and why taking precaution is necessary to avoid a fire or other emergency.
In serious cases of fire, most children stick onto their instinct to hide. This makes it difficult for firefighters to rescue them being that time is of the essence in these situations. A tour of the fire station will also open up kids to the thought of looking out for firefighters in the case of one.
Books & Videos:
Resources like books and educational videos are an easily accessible way to introduce the idea of fire safety among children. Pictorial or story books about fire safety for kids are easy for them to understand, while educational videos put across the concept in a fun and interactive way that influences their minds. Some books that revolve around firefighters and fire safety are:
- Arthur’s Fire Drill
- Big Frank’s Fire Truck
- Fire! Fire!
- FireFighter PiggyWiggy
Fire Drills are the most beneficial way of preparing kids for fire safety as it sets in place a definite course of action in their minds. Nothing will ingrain the procedure for an emergency exit as well as rehearsals. This is where Fire Drills come in. Treating each drill like a real emergency situation and carrying out each standard step helps children subconsciously know what to do in the case of a real situation.
- Upon coming across a fire, stay calm.
- Scream “FIRE!” to alert others.
- Form a straight line and head out of the building along the pre-planned primary exit.
- Use the secondary exit if the primary exit is inaccessible.
- Lightly touch doorknobs to check if they’re hot. Open doors only if they are not hot.
- Always crawl under the smoke to avoid intoxication of the lungs.
- STOP, DROP, and ROLL to extinguish the fire on your clothes.
- Once you have safely evacuated, go to the meeting spot that has been assigned for emergencies.
- Be patient until the designated supervisors complete a head count.
- Do not panic.
- Do not hide.
- Do not attempt to extinguish a fire unless you are qualified.
- Do not open doors if the doorknob is hot or if you find smoke underneath.
- Do not stop to collect any materials. Go outside quickly.
- Do not stop to call Fire Station. Call for help once you get outside.
- Do not re-enter the burning building.
- Do not enter the building post-fire until the fire department passes clearance.
It’s important to remember that theoretical knowledge of fire safety awareness is not enough. Children tend to forget the essential do’s and don’ts in the time of a panic-ridden situation like a fire. It’s vital to conduct a special session on fire safety for kids at least once and practice a fire drill every 3 or so months to ensure preparation for a fire evacuation.