08/13/2009: "Take The Mystery Out Of Fire"
By Bob Low
Curious Kids Set Fires
Children under five are curious about fire. Often what begins as a natural exploration of the unknown can lead to tragedy.
• Children of all ages set over 35,000 fires annually. Approximately 8,000 of those fires are set in homes.
• Children make up 15-20% of all fire deaths.
• At home, children usually play with fire in bedrooms, in closets and under beds. These are "secret" places where there are a lot of things that catch fire easily.
• Too often, child firesetters are not given proper guidance and supervision by parents and teachers. Consequently, they repeat their firesetting behavior.
Practice Fire Safety in Your Home
• Supervise young children closely. Do not leave them alone even for short periods of time.
• Keep matches and lighters in a secured drawer or cabinet.
• Have your children tell you when they find matches and lighters.
• Check under beds and in closets for burned matches, evidence your child may be playing with fire.
• Develop a home fire escape plan, practice it with your children and designate a meeting place outside.
• Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
• Teach children the nature of fire. It is FAST, HOT, DARK and DEADLY!
• Teach children not to hide from firefighters, but to get out quickly and call for help from another location.
• Show children how to crawl low on the floor, below the smoke, to get out of the house and stay out in the case of fire.
• Demonstrate how to stop, drop to the ground and roll if their clothes catch fire.
• Install smoke alarms on every level in your home.
• Familiarize children with the sound of your smoke alarm.
• Test the smoke alarm each month and replace the battery at least once a year.
• Replace the smoke alarm every ten years, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.