While gun violence steals the headlines, twice as many children under the age of 10 die as a result of fire. Children under the age of five face an even greater risk. Make sure your home schooled children are educated in fire safety. One of the first places to start is making an exit plan. It is best to make this a very concrete activity that is practiced regularly. If a child helps to draw out their own plan and practices it with the family, they are more apt to remember what to do if a real crisis hits. They are not left just trying to remember “What was it Mom said to do??” while they are scared and stressed.
Work with your child this week to create their own exit plan.
- Name every room in the house and draw them out together on paper.
- Label 2 escape routes from each room.
- Designate a safe meeting place
- It should be close to the house, but out of danger.
- It should be in the front of the house so that fire safety personnel can tell who is out safely and who may be still in the home.
- It should be visible at night, such as a light pole, or a neighbors porch.
Once you have your exit plan written out:
- Post copies on the backs of doors at their eye level, so they know where to find them.
- Practice, practice, practice! Practice as a family to make sure that everyone knows how to get out and who is responsible for the youngest ones.
- Remind them of these three important steps:
- Stay low when there is smoke.
- Get out quickly – Don’t run, but walk briskly.
- Once out, stay out! Don’t go back for toys or pets.
Most fire deaths occur in homes with non-working smoke detectors. Test your detectors once per month. Having smoke detectors in every room increases chances of the fire being noticed sooner, and escape more likely. Change batteries twice per year, and replace any smoke detector over ten years old. For information on types of smoke detectors, window ladders and other important safety equipment, visit FireFacts.org.