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Thursday, 13 March 2014

Fire Safety at our house

Being safe and managing risks is just part of my personality. That part may have become a *little* exaggerated when I became a parent.  When I added being a child care provider to the mix, safety became paramount.

With daylight savings time just passed I am sure you all remembered to check or change the batteries in your smoke detectors. It got me thinking that I should share with you our fire safety routine.

That Guy and I had started with using the typical map of the house and identifying the nearest exits with the kids.  But, although we went over and over it, the actual concept wasn't really sinking in.  Likely because seeing something on paper does not impress its importance on a very young child.

So I switched gears.  On the 2nd of every month (that's the day we picked years ago, you of course could choose any day) instead of pulling out a floor plan of our house we pull out a cardboard box.  On this box, with the kids crayons, I drew flames.

I take the box, and while the kids are immersed in their own activities I place it someplace in the house to represent a fire hazard.

Fire hazard on the stairs!
Yes, you can be impressed with my flame colouring skills. 

Fire hazard blocking the front door!

Fire hazard in the hallway by the office!
Then I activate the smoke alarm. The kids try to leave the house, but if the fire hazard is in the way they must remember and practice alternate routes.   Knowing that there ARE alternate routes may not be enough during an emergency when habit reigns. If a child has only physically practiced one safety escape they may panic if that one if blocked during a real fire.

At first, sounding the alarm scared the children. But it was important to me that the sound of the alarm did not terrify them into non movement.  So we have kept at it every month.  The sounds is still rare enough to get their immediate attention while being familiar enough to keep panic at bay.

With our escape route we practice the old "Stop Drop and Roll", feeling for heat on a closed door, or blocking incoming smoke for seeping under a door if we are trapped and must await rescue. We practice calling for help. All too often, young children are scared by fires and tend to hide, even from the fire rescue team. Be clear that an engaged fire is very loud and they will need to shout! We also practice our safe meeting places out of the house and how to interact with first responders to help them do their jobs.

When the practice is over our box goes back to its home in the basement to await next months exciting drill.

Hopefully this blog will inspire you to talk your family and any children in your care about fire safety and get practicing!

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