Children have an innate urge to explore their environment, to test their limits and to imitate others. It’s how they learn, but it can also get them into some tricky situations. I’ve had a few hair-raising experiences with my son who likes to test his physical limits; ‘can my head fit through these bars?’ Yes it can, but it can’t get back out again quite so easily. ‘Can I fit in this tree trunk?’ again, yes you can but it’s going to take 10 minutes and lots of screaming to pull you out.
Luckily for me, we haven’t had any fire-related near misses yet and I must admit I don’t think I’d be overly prepared if we did. I’m hoping that by taking a preventative approach and minimising the risk of fire in our household will be enough. I need to educate myself for the safety of my children and, let’s be honest, I’m not alone!
According to the RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) domestic fires pose one of the greatest risks to children and according to the Department for Communities and Local Government 6,000 fires are started each year by children under the age of 10. That to me is a shocking statistic and even more shocking is that fire is the cause of nearly half of all accidental deaths in children.
There’s plenty of advice available to parents and carers on how to minimise the risk of fires at home and here are the most important tips to prevent fires at home:
- Keep lighters and matches out of reach and out of sight
- If you are a smoker then make sure that you extinguish and dispose of your cigarettes properly
- When cooking try to use the back burners and ensure saucepan handles are out of reach
- Never leave chip pans unattended. According to RoSPA approximately 16,000 domestic fires are started each year from deep frying food.
- Place fire guards on any open, gas or electric fires and ensure they are securely attached to the wall
- Straighteners and curling irons should be kept out of reach and turned off after use
- Never leave burning candles unattended and keep them out of reach of children at all times
- With the summer now upon us be extra vigilant with BBQs, firepits and fire torches. Don’t leave children unattended in the garden when they are lit
If the worst should happen and a fire does ignite you can give your family the best possible chance to escape if you have installed an adequate amount of smoke detectors for the size and layout of your property. Only purchase alarms that comply to BS EN 14604 2005 and ensure they are in working order by regularly checking them. Fire and smoke detectors can give you the extra minutes needed to evacuate safely.
You certainly don’t want to frighten your children but you should educate them on what to do if they hear the alarms and make a fun game out of evacuating the property. Make sure they know not to stop to collect anything and to keep low. Try and talk through the different evacuation routes in the house so they know what to do if one is blocked.
Finally, a simple saying to remember: Get out, Stay out, call 999!
- http://www.sparky.org/ – an American site run by the National Fire Prevention Association, specifically aimed at educating children
- https://www.gov.uk/firekills – UK government fire safety information site with information and guidance for fire safety at home and in the workplace. This leaflet is particularly useful: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/49762/Fire_Safety_for_Parents_and_Child_Carers_-_Version_2.pdf