I asked my children the other day, do you have any fire safety days or lessons at school? Does the local fire station send round a representative? The answer was yes and no. Both said they had the annual fireworks night safety talk at school by the teachers but nothing else.
I then asked myself, how much do I engage with my children about fire safety? Again, the answer was yes and no. When they were little the fire guard was around the open fire, they knew not to play with matches, they knew that when the toast was burnt the alarm went off and why it went off.
As they grow older we assume that they will become self-aware of the dangers of fire. It is a subject we do not dwell on too much as we do not want to make our children overly afraid so we need to engage and educate to take away this fear.
Leading by example
Would your child know not to touch a hot door if the house was on fire? Would they know to get as low to the ground as possible if they encounter a smoke-filled room? Do they know the meaning of stop, drop, roll?
We pack our children off to school and are safe in the knowledge that they will get the best education possible. But if they are not aware of fire safety, who is there to engage with them? YOU!
As a parent we are our children’s role models, they look to us for answers and guidance. Take crossing the road for example. How many times do we drum it into them about where is safe to cross? Always wait for the green man at traffic light crossings. Always look left and right even if the green man is lit up. Crossing the road is dangerous for children and so is fire. We just assume it won’t happen to us. After all, when was the last time a house in your street caught fire? But then again, when was the last time someone in your street got run over?
The statistics you should read
In 2015/16 the Fire Service attended 528,700 incidents of which 162,000 were fire related accounting for 303 deaths.
A startling figure is that 73,600 were thought to be deliberate!! Of the 162,000 fire related incidents 73,400 were classed as primary fires (affecting people and property), of which 54,000 were accidental. Of the 303 deaths, 246 were from accidental causes of fire of which 191 deaths were due to accidental fires in dwellings.
Whilst the number of deaths is low, 7,644 people were non-fatal causalities of which 3,299 required hospital treatment. This outlines the fact that fire related incidents do cause harm to people and engagement and education could reduce the number of people having to be taken to hospital. For full details of the Home Office Fire Statistics report please read here
How to engage
It goes without saying that we all have a responsibility to ourselves and our children to be fire safety aware. Think about one aspect of fire safety and teach your children this. Obviously, we do not want to scare our children but drip feeding knowledge to them is a good option. For younger children, you could make it a fun “game” by using flip cards. There are plenty on the internet
What about role play? Children love to copy their parent’s actions. Try a practice run of what to do if the smoke alarm goes off in the night.
For older children when they are doing their homework ask them to search on line about a particular subject of fire safety. After all what child doesn’t like having the freedom to surf the internet? Search online for open days and events at your local fire station.
Make fire safety education different, by getting your children to engage with you will make it sink in and could stop them becoming one of the annual statistics