Kids and Fire Safety

Getting kids involved in fire safety is important…and often not the first thing kids want to do when they could be playing with friends. Here are some tips to get your kids input on family fire safety:

  1. Have your kids help you draw a floor plan of your residence. Tell them to mark two parent-approved escape routes from each room.
  2. Have your kids designate a place for family to meet outside the house. (If you choose a neighbor’s house, make sure all family members know the neighbor’s address and phone number. And be sure to tell the neighbor they are ‘it’!)

    WHN TIP: Find a favorite tree

    Neighbors too far away? Have your kids choose a favorite tree away from the home and on the lawn as your meeting place. Remind them to stay there and wait until the firefighters say it's OK to move. Make sure the spot is away from the road and driveway - first responder vehicles will drive on these.

  3. Have your kids place a copy of fire escape plan in each bedroom. Make sure the plan is easily accessible.
  4. Know the emergency response plan for your children's school or day-care center, as well as other places where your family spends time. Review these plans with everyone in the family.
  5. Practice like it's real! Blindfold family members, put them in their bedroom and tell them to crawl to safety. Have parents time kids and kids time parents – the fastest one wins a prize! (Choosing dinner? Extra allowance? Just be sure prizes are decided before the race begins.)
  6. Watch a great example of a family's escape plan here:

Practice! Practice! Practice!

  1. Every month, practice escape plans from each bedroom (and other rooms) using two of the designated exits. This also ensures that windows and doors aren’t stuck and that screens can be removed.
  2. Tell your family to leave your home at the first sign of fire or if the alarm sounds.
  3. Teach everyone to yell “FIRE!” as loud as they can several times while they are escaping.
  4. In the event of a fire, teach kids to stay low to the ground and to feel all doors before opening them. Remember, if a door is hot, get out another way!
  5. “Stop, drop and roll” is only practiced if clothing catches on fire.

    WHN TIP: Know when to "stop, drop and roll"

    Kids could confuse “Stop, drop and roll” with escaping from a fire, so make sure that they understand that “stop, drop and roll” is only used when clothing catches on fire.

  6. Children are often concerned about the safety of their pets. Discuss this with them and remind them that, in many cases, pets are able to get out on their own.

    WHN TIP: Practice, practice, practice

    Practice fire escapes at night to see how long family members take to wake up. Also, practice blindfolded – the smoke will make it very difficult to see anything.

Fire Safety – Start Now

  1. Talk with your entire family about the dangers of playing with fire.

    WHN TIP: Not the time for hide and seek!

    Teach children them not to hide during a fire – they need to get out of the home or building ASAP. Even if they started the fire, they should not hide or be afraid of getting in trouble – saving their life is more important! Tell kids that they need to get out at the first sign of a fire.

  2. Make sure matches and lighters are out of reach of children.
  3. Teach children to stay three feet and/or three giant steps away from the stove while someone is cooking.
  4. Talk about the basic rules of gas and electrical safety. If kids (or anyone) smell a rotten-egg odor, they should leave the house immediately. (If your kids have never smelled a rotten egg, find something with sulfur in it and have your kids smell it so they know what you mean by ‘rotten egg smell’).
  5. Teach kids to stay away from frayed wires and not to put items in electrical sockets.
  6. Sleep with bedroom doors shut. If you’re not doing this now, it may be hard to change the habit – especially if kids are afraid of the dark – but doors can act as protective smoke shields and also increase potential escape time.

Additional Resources

  • FEMA for Kids
    Offers educational information on wildfires for kids. The site also has fun games and stories. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) prepares the nation for hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident.
  • ReadyKids
    A tutorial program for kids from the Department of Homeland Security. Includes tips on creating an emergency kit, plan and information on natural events. Also has games and activities to help learn the information. The Department of Homeland Security leverages resources within Federal, state, and local governments, coordinating the transition of multiple agencies and programs into a single, integrated agency focused on protecting the American people and their homeland.
  • U.S. Fire Administration for Kids
    The USFA Kids site has lessons on home fire safety, smoke alarms and escaping from a fire. Also, there’s games and puzzles about fire safety. It’s a great educational activity to do on a rainy day or anytime. USFA Kids’ mission is to educate children about fires and act as an information source for adults and teachers about fire safety. The U.S. Fire Administration is an entity of the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

    Updated: 5/2009