Children and Safety: How to Prevent House Fire
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House fires are scary, wild, and carries the potential of growing completely out of control. A few candles on the cake of birthday child, however, is something seen as fun, decorative and easy to control with a single breath; as a parent, you need to make sure that she knows how quickly the situation can turn and exactly what to do if something happens.
That way, you can all enjoy the heat of a bonfire or the lively look of candles on a birthday cake without the risk of fire running out of control.
Young children at home
While most fires start at home, the biggest risk is found in the kitchen. Your cooking equipment is the greatest hazard of them all, with heating and electrical equipment being almost just as common. It’s important to talk to your children about the fire hazards and how to prevent them in the kitchen, such as not allowing young children to operate adult tools and never to leave the kitchen unattended while something is cooking.
It seems obvious enough – but even though your child doesn’t want to set something on fire intentionally, it could still happen. In fact, most juvenile firesetters are not troubled youngsters who just want to see something burn; they’re often five years old and completely unaware of the danger.
Children are curious and want to explore – a pack of matches lying around is just another toy to play with. Most of the fires started by young children occur in their own bedroom; it’s where they spend the most time alone and are likely to play and explore. When no adults are around, and the youngster is feeling curious about the playful flame he is so used to seeing, the potential for an out-of-control fire is greater than ever.
Remember that children are unsupervised where you believe they’re at their safest: at home. You need to keep any matches and lighters out of reach, and stacked away in a drawer isn’t enough – it needs to be somewhere your child won’t be able to get it when you’re not around. Any child can quickly get a kitchen chair to stand on in order to get ahold of that tempting box on a dull Tuesday afternoon, so it’s vital to keep them from having easy access to ignition materials.
It only takes a minute or two for a young child to pick up a few matches and light a fire – all of this could go down while you’re out to buy milk for fifteen minutes.
Why do they start the fire?
Obviously, a young child that sets a fire is not a bad person. The most common reason for children to play with matches or cause something to burn is, first of all, to explore and play. Although it’s not the best thing to play with, it’s often difficult for a preschooler to understand the chain of events that goes down for a single flame to turn into a raging fire.
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Fire is familiar to children and something they’re used to seeing in many social settings. Charming candles on a dinner table, a cozy fire sparkling in the living room, or even a BBQ during summer; fire is a familiar friend which they’ve seen you handle with ease many times.
Plus, the one flame they have managed themselves for a few years already has been easily controlled with a single breath; all in all, it’s not so strange that children are curious and want to explore more of this fragile and easily controlled flame on the tip of a match.
What can I do to prevent it?
The most important things in your home to prevent a raging fire is to have access to fire extinguishers as well as fire alarms. Make sure the extinguisher is working as it should and remember to perform a smoke alarm testing once in awhile.
Now that you know how dangerous your little ones can be and the hazards of having ignition material floating around the house, we can start to talk about prevention. Connect fire, matches, and lighters to other adult tools; just like you would tell your son that a drill is a grown-up tool and nothing to play with.
Emphasizing the hazards they pose to your home and family is effective but it’s not enough. Whenever they see a lighter or box of matches lying around which they could easily get ahold of, tell them to go and let a grown-up know.
This mindset should also be applied when they’re at a friend’s house or any place where other children might live; although your child and her friend know very well the dangers of fire, her friend might have a little brother that suddenly picks up the box when no-one is looking. You want your children’s friends to do the same when they visit your home, so talk to other parents about fire prevention.
You can create and practice a fire escape route with the entire family. Your children go through this at school all the time, and it makes sense to do the same at home. The plan needs to include two routes of escape from every room in case fire blocks the one exit; ask your local fire department to inspect your home if you’re unsure whether it meets all the requirements for fire safety.
Take any disabilities into consideration when you practice the plan together. All clutter should also be removed from the route so that everyone is able to get out easily. Practice it with as much reality as possible, and tell your children to stay flat on the floor to breathe in as little smoke as possible. If any clothes catch fire, they need to have practised stopping, dropping, and rolling during these drills – you don’t want to go through the escape route for the first time when you need it the most.
Go over it around two times per year and your children will seem like little fire-pros if something were to happen in the future.