Overview

Teaching your children how to act during fires can help reduce stress, minimize the risk of serious injuries and save lives.

Develop a fire escape plan

Every household should have a fire escape plan that includes:

  • two ways out of every room
  • a safe way to get to the ground from a second floor or higher
  • a meeting place outside your home

Remember to teach your children not to hide when they hear the smoke alarm, but to start the escape plan you have practised. They should also know not to go back inside until a parent or firefighter says it's safe.

Practise your plan

  • Practise your fire escape plan by having fire drills at least twice a year.
  • Be sure your plan includes two ways out of every room and a path that leads to the outside of your home or building.
  • Let your children know when you are holding a drill so they can be prepared.
  • Ensure they understand the sound of the alarm and determine whether they can wake if it goes off.
  • Teach children to crawl to the nearest exit when a room is filled with smoke, or to ‘stop, drop and roll’ if their clothing catches on fire.
  • Include a safe meeting place where everyone should gather once outdoors.

Stop, drop and roll

Fire can spread very quickly, so it is important to teach your children what to do if their clothing catches on fire.

  • Stop, drop and roll.
  • If your child cannot stop, drop and roll, tell them to use a blanket or towel to smother the flames.

Teach your children not to play with matches and lighters

  • Teach children to tell a grown-up when they find matches and lighters.
  • Keep matches, lighters and other smoking materials high on a shelf or in a locked cupboard.
  • Teach children that matches and lighters are not toys, but for adult use.

Have a working smoke alarm

Smoke alarms should be installed on each level of the home, including:

  • basement
  • bedrooms
  • outside sleeping areas

Teach your children how to test smoke alarms monthly and to recognize the chirping sound of a low battery.

Teach your children to call 911

Your children should understand what 911 is, when to use this number and how to use your phone to make the emergency call.

Let them know they can call this number if they think they are in danger, a fire has broken out, or if someone is seriously injured. Provide concrete examples of when they would need to call 911 and ensure they do this only when they have reached safety.

Helping kids cope after a fire

Children can feel the stress from a fire and may react in different ways.

  • Take their fears seriously and tell them it is ok to be scared.
  • Explain the events as best you can and acknowledge what is frightening about what happened.
  • Tell your children how you feel about the situation as it makes them feel less alone.
  • Praise them for their bravery and quick thinking, but also teach them ways to improve for their safety (if needed).
  • Maintain familiar routines like meal times and regular bedtime.
  • Continue practising your fire escape plan and make any improvements.
  • Seek professional advice from someone who can help children cope with their emotions.

Resources

Download our poster and graphics to share online and in your community to help teach children about fire safety.

Additional information