Teaching children fire safety begins by helping them understand the dangers of fire. Follow these tips to help your kids develop a healthy respect for fire and the dangers it posses:
- Make a habit of taking advantage of all the opportunities you have to talk with your children about fire. Whenever you hear on the news or read in a paper about something catching fire, use it to show them how easily fire can spread and how dangerous it can be if not used very carefully.
- Explain to your children that fire is not a toy. It is a tool for adults to use very carefully, much like a power saw or a stove.
- Model healthy fire handling yourself. Don’t play with fire or handle it irresponsibly in front of your children.
- Explain to them that fire is an unstable substance, and that it can get bigger very quickly if people are not extremely careful.
Besides teaching children never to play with fire, tell them that if they ever see any matches or lighters laying around they should not touch them and tell an adult right away. Reward children for telling you if they ever find matches or lighters laying around anywhere. Give them praise for doing the right thing.
Teaching Children Not to Play With Fire
Children playing with fire account for a large number of childhood deaths from fire. Sadly, many of the children killed in a fire started it themselves. It is suspected that around 250,000 fires are set each year in the United States by children under 18. It is important to give children a healthy fear and respect for fire, and emphasize how dangerous it can be.
Many parents don’t realize how young this curiosity with fire can start. Many studies suggest that this curiosity develops even before the age of 3, and there are a large number of fires that are started by preschool aged children who are experimenting with fire. It is important, from a very young age, that you reinforce with your children a healthy respect for fire.
Talking with kids about the dangers of playing with fire
- Show your child some matches and a lighter while explaining to them the dangers. Use this analogy: Hold the tools up, and explain to them that these are far more dangerous than a gun. Explain to them that, every year, these kill more children than guns do.
- Make it clear that playing with fire is just as serious as playing with a gun or a power saw, and that you will treat it just as seriously if you ever catch them doing it.
- Make yourself a resource. Explain that if they ever have questions about fire they can ask you, or if they ever get curious there might be ways that you could help them explore fire in safe ways (like letting them help you build a camp fire); but ONLY if they act responsibly.
- Besides teaching children never to play with fire, tell them that if they ever see any matches or lighters laying around they should not touch them and tell an adult right away. Reward children for telling you if they ever find matches or lighters laying around anywhere. Give them praise for doing the right thing.
- If you ever catch your child playing with fire, do not take the situation lightly. Fire-setters who are not given proper guidance will likely do it again, becoming a risk to everyone around them.
Teaching kids What to do if a Friend is playing With Fire
A child does not have to be the one playing with fire in order to die from the results of it. Many children have been killed because a friend was playing with fire, and they went along, giving in to the other child’s wishes.
- Start a discussion by asking them what they would do if a friend of theirs was playing with fire.
- Tell them that if they ever find anyone else playing with fire, they need to leave the room immediately, and tell the first adult they can find.
- Explain to them that it is much more important that they keep safe, and keep their friend safe, than to keep quiet and end up getting hurt or letting their friend hurt themselves.
- Let them know that they can sometimes get a friend to stop unsafe behavior. If they see a friend who is playing with fire, they need to tell that friend to stop it right away, and let them know how dangerous it is. They need to threaten to tell, and most of the time their friend will choose to play something else.
- Tell children that if they are ever with a friend who wants to play with fire, even if they convince their friend not to, they should tell the parents about the situation so that their mom or dad can have a talk with them to keep them safe. And parents, if kids do the right thing by telling, don’t betray their trust by simply letting the other person know they ratted out their friend. Find a discreet way to have the necessary conversations with the other child.
Teaching children that firefighters are your friends
It’s unfortunate, but children are often times killed because they hide from a firefighter. A fire is a scary ordeal as it is. Then when they see a firefighter dressed in what looks like a big space suit who is breathing like Darth Vader and carrying an axe around, they can get even more afraid.
- Teach children that firefighters are their friends. Even though they may look scary, they are there to protect them. If they see a firefighter, they should crawl to them as fast as they can.
- Show them a picture of a firefighter in full uniform, and talk about what they look like. Then explain that this person is just a normal person who wears a lot of equipment to keep themselves safe. (Free download of firefighter in uniform discussion picture.)
- Go over what that equipment is and what it is used for. Explain that the axe helps them to break down doors and walls in a fire so they can get to people to help them. That the suit they wear helps keep them safe in a fire. That their helmet and oxygen tanks help keep them from breathing in all the smoke, and that is why they look and sound funny.