By Beth K
Baby-proofing the home is one of the most important first steps for parents as their newborn grows into a boisterous toddler and beyond. Home safety naturally extends to fire prevention, especially when the house is full of growing, curious youngsters.
During the holiday season residential fires are more common, so take a few moments this month to show little ones how to best avoid the hazards of smoke and flame.
Each year, the National Fire Prevention Association chooses a theme for special consideration. 2016’s focus is, “Don't Wait-Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years." Keep this fact in mind, as well as other important fire safety tips, as you review safety information with your children this and every year.
Safety and Supervision
Toddlers and infants must be supervised at all times, especially within the home. Because of their young age, they don't understand the dangers within the average household. Move space heaters from the immediate area where young children play. Electrical wires must be coiled away from children with no frayed edges along their lengths. Ideally, your children must have a three-foot space between them and any fire-danger item. Take a critical look at your home from the child's perspective. Wires hanging down to electrical outlets and matches laid out on tables are tempting objects to explore for youngsters.
Include Older Children in the Conversation
Older children in the household can be helpful assistants in an emergency. Teaching them about fire safety places responsibility in their hands. In fact, most elementary-school children appreciate some responsibility because it makes them feel grown up. Discuss the dangers surrounding kitchen appliances, including the stove and oven. Explain how lighters shouldn't be used without adult supervision. Give children a job to do if the smoke alarm does go off, such as notifying an adult of the situation.
Smoke Detectors Save Lives
Your smoke detectors are the first defense against major outbreaks in the home. Show everyone how to test the devices and replace the batteries when necessary. You may want to use a home-automation application, such as the Sky App or Nest Protect, which allows you to remotely access the fire system from any Internet-based connection. You'll always know when a detector is ready for replacement or repair with this app on your phone or tablet. Keeping the kids safe at all times is the core reason to incorporate automation with every fire plan at home.
Designate Adult Duties
When a fire emergency does occur, young children and infants will be understandably frightened. They might freeze in place or start crying. Pick one or two adults who will be their protectors and caregivers in the chaos of a fire disaster. They must locate and bring these kids to safety during any fire event. Always have at least two people designated for your children's care. If one person isn't home, the duties can then fall on the shoulders of the second.
Plan a Smart Escape
A smart escape plan has several exit points around the home. You never know where a fire might break out. Every escape route, however, should have a common meeting point. Gather on the opposite side of the street or in a neighbor's yard. With a known meeting point, you can make certain that everyone is safely out of the home during a fire.
Preparation and practice are the best ways to keep young children safe from fire throughout the year. By teaching them early on that fire emergencies are not only serious but preventable, you can help encourage safe habits around open flames, flammable substances and other potentially high-risk fire-related scenarios. During the holidays and throughout the rest of the year, it’s important to keep everyone informed (no matter how old!) as to how they can stay away from fire danger.
Beth K is a freelance health and family blogger based in the Midwest. After graduating from DePaul University in Chicago with a degree in Marketing and Communications, she moved to South Korea to teach English and learn more about holistic health and yoga practices. Beth now continues to live and work in Chicago with her rabbit, Anthony Hopkins.