Did you know unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for children ages one to 21, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, and, that fire and related burns are the third leading cause of these unintentional injuries? The annual survey, Fire Loss in the United States, reveals that each year in the United States an estimated 2,800 children age 14 or younger are injured and 850 are killed in residential fires. Of these children, over 40 percent are under the age five, 70 percent are under the age of 10, making fire everyone’s battle to fight. Far too many people have been killed or injured in fires that could have been prevented by taking simple steps. Here are some facts about children and fire safety:
FACT: Matches, lighters, and other heat sources are the leading causes of fire-related deaths for children under age five. The USFA includes these suggestions to keep children safe from fires on their website, usfa.fema.gov:
Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
Keep matches and lighters out of reach and sight, preferably in a secured cabinet.
Teach children to tell an adult when they find matches and lighters.
Remember that even child-resistant lighters are not childproof, and store them safely.
Never use matches or lighters as amusement. Children watch and often imitate adults.
October is Fire Prevention Month. Local fire departments reach out to K-5 classrooms with safety education programs.
FACT: Two-thirds of home fires that kill children occur in homes without a working smoke alarm. Increase your chances of surviving a fire by teaching safety and installing smoke alarms. Use these guidelines from USFA:
Teach children to get out quickly and call 9-1-1 for help from another location.
Show children how to crawl low on the floor, below the smoke, to get out of the house and stay out.
Teach them to never run if their clothes catch on fire and demonstrate how to “STOP, DROP, & ROLL”.
Install smoke alarms on every level in your home and familiarize children with their sound.
Test the smoke alarm monthly and replace batteries at least twice a year.
Helpful Hint: Change the batteries when you change your clocks in the spring and fall.
PLAN AND PRACTICE
FACT: Most families who have fire escape plans do not practice them. Consider the few minutes, or even seconds, a fire takes to spread. Then consider the difference a well-rehearsed fire escape plan can make. Children as young as three
may need to practice a fire escape plan often. It could mean the difference between life and death.
Diagram your home, and plan two routes out of each room.
Consider various fire scenarios. Develop an escape plan for a safe escape in each scenario.
Pick a place outside to meet that is easy to remember.
Practice regularly—at least twice a year, more often is better. Include a strategy for times when one parent is out of the home, too.
Include a home fire drill to put your fire safety plan into practice.
With little ones in the home, these extra escape options are necessary:
Keep a baby wrap by the crib in case of emergencies. The wrap, worn like a body brace, allows you to comfortably carry your baby and leave your hands free to escape the home.
Keep your child’s bedroom door closed. If a hallway fire occurs, a closed door will hinder smoke from overpowering your baby or toddler, giving firefighters extra time for rescue.
Teach toddlers not to hide from firefighters. Uniforms can be scary in times of crisis. Teach children that firefighters are there to help in an emergency.
If you have older children, have them practice crawling, touching doors, or going to the window depending on your escape plan. The following websites are geared toward kid-friendly fire safety tips and strategies: