Fire Safety Week happens every fall at our local elementary school. I would assume most schools do something similar, but fire safety certainly is a big deal at our school and rightfully so.
For our household, this is our third year experiencing Fire Safety Week with our daughter, and my husband and I often reminisce about when we were younger and the events that would follow this week’s educational program. The fire department would bring in a big trailer that simulated a kitchen and bedroom. Students could venture through the trailer, crawl to stay low out of the “smoke” and climb out a bedroom window to safety. There would also often be a fire truck to explore and students would be invited to learn more about the fire safety equipment.
Our family knew Fire Safety Week was an important week, yet somehow our discussion never went further than, “Hey it’s Fire Safety Week.” Until this year.
It is our son’s first Fire Safety Week. He just entered kindergarten, and we often discuss how strong and mature he acts considering that he is still only five. He has never been afraid of anything. He loves spooky stories and is currently amazed by zombies, vampires and all things creepy and crawly. I mean, he even loves the dark and comforts me if we are outside (because I’m 33 and petrified of the dark.)
Then, Sunday of Fire Safety Week happened. His class spent the week leading up to it preparing for the safety demonstration, so there was a lot of fire talk at school. Sunday afternoon, we happened to have the broiler on to crisp what was cooking and accidentally left it a bit longer than we should have so the slightest amount of smoke came from the stove. My husband and I took care of it fast. The smoke alarms never went off because we caught the smoke before anything started burning. It was truly not a big deal.
To our son though, the smoke and threat of fire were horrific. We opened the doors and windows in our house because of the smell and that sent our son into a complete meltdown. He was truly scared that something dangerous was happening, and that he wasn’t safe.
Our daughter took immediate action as a protector and wouldn’t leave his side. She stayed there, holding his hand, kissing his cheek and reminding him nothing was wrong.
Cuddling lasted more than thirty minutes before he calmed down and stopped crying. He finally understood that he was in no real danger. He then looked at me and said, “I have a lot of fire safety questions.” It was at this moment that we realized it was a perfect learning experience to talk over with our kids and make our own home fire safety plan.
My husband and I talked to the kids about the importance of keeping toys, clothes, books, and other items away from heat sources in our house and we all tested our smoke and carbon monoxide alarm like we try to do monthly. We discussed where our meeting spot is outside the house in case of a fire, and the quickest route to get there. We sang the, “Stop, Drop & Roll” song and shared it is important to crawl if there is smoke.
Our children also learned that if they are in their rooms, and the fire alarm goes off, and their bedroom door is shut, to touch the door handle with the back of their hand and if it is hot to choose their bedroom window as an escape route instead. This has, in turn, made our son want to do practice fire safety runs so he feels prepared should the need arise. And his fear of going to bed that stemmed from this has slowly diminished.
We turned a minor moment of smoke from the stove into a family learning moment. Our children feel more prepared, and our son is reassured now that he knows where the fire extinguishers and escape routes are.
Fire safety is without question a conversation that every family should have. We have always talked about safety around a fire pit or a bonfire but neglected to have this very important conversation with our kids in the event of a fire in our home.
Our son is now focused every night before bed on making sure every radiator is clear of any obstructions, that there is nothing plugged in that shouldn’t be, and that any lit candles are blown out. He is our very own fire safety marshall.
Has your family had the fire safety talk and created a fire safety plan?