When it comes to home fire safety and emergency planning, it’s always best to have a plan and keep it visible, especially where kids can see it and learn it. Practicing also gives everyone in the household a chance to know what’s expected, and where they should go if an emergency were to arise. When I was a kid I probably wouldn’t have known exactly what to do in a fire besides run. So, it has always been a goal of mine to make sure my kids know what to do if any fire or emergency should occur in the home.
The best way to do this is to plan and set up a chart or list which is visible for all in the home to see, but there is so much more you can do to prepare everyone!
PLAN: Always have a plan in motion. Teach kids NOT to run for items in their bedrooms or basement, but instead to meet outside of the home (across the street, or at a neighbors preferably) sit down as a family and come up with a way to know what to do and when. Depending on the emergency heading to the first door they see (fire), or heading to the basement, closet or attic or nearest door if possible (burglaries) make sure they know they need to stay safe.
TEACH: Teach kids not to play with matches, lighters, stoves, or sockets. Keep sockets covered (there are many different types of plastic safety covers) and keep lighters, candles, matches etc up high on a shelf out of arms reach.
CHART: Put a chart up by your front door, back door and even on different floors with a plan you’ve set in motion. Ex: STOP. ALERT. LEAVE. Draw photos, and keep it basic but to the point. So when in doubt, everyone can look and know exactly what to do.
PHONE LIST: If there is an emergency it’s always best to keep a phone handy – have 911 on a speed dial, or written on/near the phone. Teach kids 911 is NOT a joke, and to only use when an emergency arises. Keep emergency numbers in all cell phones, and even keep some in your child’s backpack. If a power outage were to occur, it will be handy to keep numbers close by to let family and friends know you are alright as well.
EMERGENCY/NON-EMERGENCY: It can be difficult for kids to tell between an emergency and non-emergency when young. A broken toy can seem like a top priority emergency to them so it’s best to explain the difference. If a toy is broken, or someone is breaking into the house these are two completely different issues and while both may seem like HUGE emergencies, only one requires a 911 phone call.
PRACTICE: Step up a practice emergency, and practice as a family what you want to occur during the top emergencies. This is a great way to be prepared, and most kids already know these type of drills from school – so not only is it educational, and helpful it’s also something they will recognize. Children should know, and will know what to do when a smoke alarm goes off – but teaching them about other emergencies during these practices is beneficial too.
BUILD A KIT: Have a kit ready for emergencies. Flash light, batteries, canned foods, band-aids, can opener, whistle, non-perishables, water, etc. This would be great to have in case of a power outage, or small issue that were to happen that doesn’t need 911, or fire; it helps kids feel safe and prepared. Keep it in a safe place the kids can reach, but not where they have easy every day access to it.
STRANGERS/BURGLARS: What do you do if someone strange approaches you or happens to get access to your house? Tell everyone in the house what the plan is, and what you expect of them during this time. Kids can be easily persuaded with puppies and candy etc., so explaining to kids and reminding them of these dangers while preparing your home emergency plan is a great idea!
The biggest emergencies to touch on would be: Home fire, Water safety, Candle/Lighter/Match Safety, Burglars, Strangers, What to do if Mom/Dad need help and cannot get to a phone. You can never be too prepared, or have kids be too aware and alert.
Make sure all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are up-to-date. Have fresh batteries and check them often. Make sure you have both on every level of your home. Sometimes we don’t think about little emergencies like power outages, or small floods. We only really prepare for fires etc, but it’s best to think and plan ahead for whatever may come your way.