Fire safety for family homes – keeping children safe
A fire occurs when three elements are present: fuel, a heat source, and oxygen. This deadly combination causes an exothermic chemical reaction and can result in its spread, if not extinguished. The fire will go out if any one of these three elements is removed. Due to the rapid nature of house fires, it is unsurprising that a family’s escape usually comes before extinguishment. It is crucial that families, particularly those with young children, are prepared for the possibility of a house fire.
Make a fire escape plan
Once they start, house fires can be uncontrollable and are certainly unpredictable, so it is vital that families create a fire escape plan.
For children, it’s particularly helpful to visualise how the fire escape plan would work by drawing it out, this may also encourage the consideration of alternative route plans. Smartphone apps can assist in creating a well thought out plan.
- Clearly mark all rooms; so that children know if the different plans for each room
- Identify two exits (windows or doors) that ideally lead to another room
- Arrange a meeting spot for the family to gather outside of the house
Key safety practices for families
There are a number of best practices that can help families and children in the event of a house fire, in addition to that of an escape plan:
- Teach children that firefighters and emergency responders are there to help them to escape
- Explain to children how dangerous house fires are the rapid nature in which they spread
- If clothing catches fire, use the ‘Stop, Drop and Roll’ technique
- Practice the method of feeling the doorknob and hinges for heat, to check if you can approach and open closed doors
- Understand that dangers from fires dangers are from smoke inhalation – hold a towel or cloth over mouths
- Demonstrating practising covering the cracks around and underneath the door to prevent smoke and toxic fumes from entering through to other rooms
- Exiting the home is the families main priority
Using a fire extinguisher
Fire extinguishers are not the easiest of objects to handle, but teaching children the memorable mnemonic acronym PASS can overcome this.
- Pull pin
- Aim towards the floor
- Squeeze the lever evenly
- Sweep the nozzle from left to right
Smoke detector protection
Smoke detectors create essential and irreplaceable protection in the event of house fires. Install smoke detectors close to the all bedrooms and in every other room or landing within the house. Make sure children are aware of how the alarm sounds if it does go off, so they are familiar with the sound. You should check the batteries every couple of months and replace them every six months; the daylight savings time switch can remind you of this.
Download the Fire Safety for Parents and Child Carers (PDF)