15 Fire Safety Tips for Kids (from a firefighter)

Keeping your family safe during an emergency is a top priority from every parent, and the best way to keep your kids safe is to ensure they know what to do in case of an emergency. As a firefighter, I can tell you that kids love when we come visit and do school safety talks. So, why not reinforce that material at home too? 

In this article, I’m going to give you some ideas for things you can do or teach your children about to help keep them safe.

1. Take them to safety town

If you’ve never heard of a safety town, it may be the single greatest invention of public safety. It’s usually held at a local elementary school or junior high and run by firefighters from the community. Safety town teaches children the basics of fire safety, how to prevent fires and what to do in the event there is a fire. 

Now, this doesn’t mean you stop your child’s safety education there, but it’s a good start if you child doesn’t know much about safety in the home. 

Not all cities do it, but it’s certainly worth a call to your local fire department or city hall to see if they do it and how to register. 

2. Teach them to stop, drop, roll

This is a must. 

When people accidentally light themselves on fire the natural response is to panic and run. This is the worst thing you can do if your clothing is on fire. The reason is as you run it only fans the flames more and creates more fire. 

The best thing you can do is stop what you’re doing, drop to the ground and roll back and forth to smother the flames. 

Sounds easy, but when your adrenaline is pumping, you’re scared and you don’t know what to do it’s easy to revert to our natural response of running. It’s important your child knows that stop, drop and roll is the best way to keep themself safe.

3. Teach them about matches and lighters

This is another staple of fire safety education. Teaching your children that matches are dangerous and are to never be used unless in the supervision of an adult is imperative to their safety. It’s also important to mention that you should not be smoking in your home, but if you do and you use lighters frequently, make sure your kids know that lighters are just as dangerous as matches. 

4. Have a plan in case of emergency

At every fire safety talk I have done I always tell the kids to make sure they make a plan with their family members of what to do in case of an emergency. 

If you haven’t taken the time to make a plan, do it now. It’s simple and only takes a few minutes. Here’s a few things to keep in mind when making a fire safety plan.

  1. Where are the bedrooms, point of egress, and does each room have two ways out?
  2. Once everyone is out of the home, where will you meet up to get a headcount of everyone?
  3. Will one person be responsible for getting the pets?
  4. What will you do if one person is missing?
  5. Where will you go after the fire?

These are just a few tips to get the conversation started. Remember, this is important, and your safety and the safety of your loved ones may depend on it. Finally, once you’ve created the plan be sure to practice it at least once per year.

5. Teach them about smoke detectors

Smoke detectors have saved more lives than firefighters ever will. That said, make sure your child is familiar with the detectors and is involved with the maintenance (battery changes) of each detector in the home. 

Have your children ever heard the smoke detector alarm? If so, do they know what that means and what to do? 

If not, now is the time to do a dry run and ensure they are familiar with the detectors, how they work and what to do if they hear one alarm.

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6. Check the windows – make sure they work

An important part of knowing two ways out is making sure that you can actually get out. It’s a sad reality that many people have passed away during a house fire because of a locked door or stuck window. Make sure your windows operate properly and a child would be able to open them. 

Also, if you have some type of safety bars on the window, make sure there is a quick release and you’re able to release it in case of an emergency.

7. Mind your pots and pans

I think we’re all guilty of cooking something on the stove, getting distracted and wandering off not paying any attention to where the pot or pan handle is. 

Make sure when you are cooking you rotate the pot or pan in a position where the handle does not stick out past the stove. It’s easy to overlook, but trust me, the consequences of a child accidentally pouring hot liquid on themselves are devastating! 

Be sure to rotate your handles away from the edge of the stove. 

8. Dial 911…with a cell phone

Now some children may still be too young, but if they’re old enough to understand how to use a phone teach them how to dial 911. It’s important to teach them not only how to dial 911, but what to do once they are connected. 

>>>If you accidentally dial 911, check out our article here on what to do next.<<< 

9. Teach you fire safety

Someone once told me that you haven’t really mastered something until you are able to teach someone else. In my experience, I have found this to be true. 

That said, consider having your child give your family a class on fire safety. Start with the basics. Something like where in the house all the smoke detectors are, what the plan would be in case of a fire or why matches are dangerous. 

This is an easy and fun way for your child to learn the importance of fire safety. 

10. Memorize address and phone number

This is important, especially if they know how to call 911. 

We would like to think that with todays technology 911 would be able to find us anywhere in the world at anytime, but unfortunately, that is far from the case. I can’t tell you how many times my crew has been dispatched to the wrong address or a completely different location from where the caller was located. 

Because of this make sure your child has the address memorized and ensure they are able to recite it to a 911 dispatcher in case of an emergency.

11. Purchase a ladder if they’re second-floor bedroom

This ties in with the earlier tip of knowing two ways out. Being presented with the choice of being trapped by a fire or jumping from a second or third story window and getting hurt isn’t really a great option. The easy fix to this is to purchase an emergency ladder that can be quickly and easily deployed. 

If you’re unfamiliar with these, here’s an example of what I’m talking about: 

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12. Visit the fire station

If you’re looking for an afternoon activity that your kids will love, consider taking them to the fire station for a tour. Parents and children come by our station all the time, and at this point, I’ve lost count of how many tours I have given. 

In addition to being a fun activity, the fire department has a ton of fire safety information, toys and materials for your children. A station visit also familiarizes them with the fire department so that in the event something happens they aren’t scared to interact with the firefighters. 

13. Get out, stay out – No exceptions

Once you’re out of the home do not go back in. This is more difficult than you would think as occasionally there may be other people or animals trapped in the home. 

Make sure your children know that the only people who should enter a burning building are trained firefighters. We have special gear and equipment that allows us to be in environments that would otherwise severely injure a person. 

14. Stay low for smoke

Contrary to popular belief, the leading cause of death from house fires is not burning. It’s from smoke inhalation. Smoke is made up of small particles, toxic gases and heat. Teach your children how to move through smoke (we do this at safety town and during school talks with the burn trailer). If there is a fire in your home it’s important for their health and safety that they know to stay low.

15. Careful of candles (consider alternatives)

This one goes hand in hand with the top about matches and lighters. 

I get it, I love a good candle too, but if you have kids around please be careful with lit candles. It is too easy for a candle to get knocked over and start a fire. Make sure your child is aware of the danger that candles present and to never touch a lit candle. 

Also, it may not hurt to consider using flameless candles until your children are old enough to understand the dangers of candles. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

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Teaching your kids about fire safety doesn’t have to be boring. Take them to the fire station, look for a safety town near you and practice, practice, practice. It could make all the difference.