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Your Kids

Family-Friendly Tips From An Active Firefighter On How Play Can Help Educate Children About Fire Prevention

Posted: 12/18/2013

A firefighter made of plastic blocks helps children learn what to do in case of fire
A firefighter made of plastic blocks helps children learn what to do in case of fire.

(NAPSI)—Most children know what to do when approached by a stranger, but do they know what to do in the event of a house fire? According to the official sponsors of Fire Prevention Week, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), children under age 5 have historically faced a higher risk of fire death than the overall population due to a lack of preparation. In honor of National Fire Prevention Week, which takes place in October—but, according to the NFPA, should be an ongoing event—families should consider ways to develop fire safety plans that everyone in the house can remember and implement, especially the littlest in the bunch.

“There are easy things that families can do to ensure safety year-round,” said NFPA expert and active firefighter Joe Molis. “For example, most people aren’t aware that fire extinguishers should be serviced annually. They buy one, tuck it away and assume it’ll work when they need it.”

According to Molis, there are other ways to make fire prevention a more engaging activity for little ones. “We’ve found that one of the best ways to engage kids in a discussion of fire prevention is to make it fun and to leverage familiar activities, since the topic can sometimes be intimidating.”

That’s why NFPA teamed with the popular children’s toy LEGO City to offer creative ways to use building bricks to educate the two-thirds of households that have not prepared or practiced a home fire escape plan. They offer the following tips:

• Build the foundation: Help children feel more comfortable discussing fire safety by working with them to construct their home out of a familiar medium such as LEGO bricks, addressing fire safety issues along the way. Point out that they should build and identify two ways out of each room, and that all doors and windows should open easily with a clear pathway for safe exit.

• Find a safe place: Every fire evacuation plan should include a safe place to meet, like a tree, lamppost or neighbor’s porch, so your whole family can respond quickly to smoke alarms or other warning signs. Help children remember where that spot is by building it on their custom plan.

• Practice your fire safety plan: Act out your fire safety plan at least twice a year. First, role- play in the custom plan you build together, then re-enact it in your home. This helps remind children about the importance of things, like keeping all exits clear of obstacles, and helps to build confidence during a real emergency.

• Be a good fire chief: Set a good example for children. Encourage good habits by taking daily safety measures, such as ensuring there is an adult in the kitchen while food is cooking, storing matches and lighters out of the reach of children, and keeping things that can burn at least three feet from heaters.

Snoqualmie, Washington mother of two, Gina Nunan, takes her kids to a firehouse every so often not only to “wow” them, but also to remind them of safety tips first-hand. “Most firehouses give free tours to children with advance notice,” said Nunan. “Hearing them firsthand from the guys in uniform helps get those rules to stick in their heads.”

Nunan also suggests reading books that incorporate fire safety tips at least every other month, like “No Dragons for Tea: Fire Safety for Kids (and Dragons),” written by Jean E. Pendziwol.

For more information on fire preparedness in the home, parents can visit www.Sparky.org and print out the “Sparky’s Home Safety Checklist” under ACTIVITIES, then walk through the home with children, marking off the checklist to ensure the whole family is prepared for possible fires and is working together to actively prevent them.

Additional child-friendly, fire safety−themed activities and tips from LEGO City and NFPA are available at www.BuildTogether.com.

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