Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fire Safety for Toddlers and Preschoolers

We left last weekend to spend some time at my in-laws with all of my husband's side of the family. There were 11 children under the age of eight, making 19 of us total in the house. On our first night together, the fire alarm went off at 3:30 am (I didn't even hear it go off--ah!). David's parents were the first to come out of their bedroom and see the smoke coming into the house from the door that led out to the garage. They started yelling "fire!" and banging on our bedroom doors. Within minutes, all of us were standing outside in the freezing cold, barefoot and coat-less, while the men ran inside to grab laptops and a few other valuables. We knew the fire must be in the garage, but by that point there was smoke pouring out of a small window above the house and we figured the entire thing would go down.

The fire department had been called immediately but my in-laws live up in the mountains, so we knew it might take a little while. We piled all of the children into my SUV and turned on the heat while we waited for our men. My husband had decided to crawl back into the kitchen and get a closer look at the source. When he saw that it was still contained by the metal door (that led out to the garage from the kitchen), he started pouring glasses of water onto the door. He called for his brother and dad and together they hooked up a hose in the utility closet and doused the door with water.

And it worked! Because the water turned to steam once it hit the burning door, it put out most of the fire that was concentrated just behind the door. When the fire department arrived, they told us that had our men not put the fire out when they did, the entire house would have been gone in MINUTES. The fire had destroyed one corner of the garage and was making it's way up into the rafters. It was all started by an electric cat bed. (Go figure.)

Firemen entering the garage.

My brother-in-law managed to save his wife and kids AND the favorite teddy.

We are all safe and the house is still standing, but I can guarantee that we will all check our smoke alarms the moment we get home. It's made me think more about activities to do with my kids to prepare them for emergencies such as a fire. Here are some ideas I found:

Good material/checklists:
(The following come from
1. A fire safety checklist to make sure your child is prepared.
2. A fire hazard checklist to help you and your kids prevent fires.
4. Here's what a fireman looks like. It would also be a great idea to check with your local fire department and see if you can come and meet a fire fighter, dressed in his gear. That would help your little ones not be afraid of them or hide from them if you did have a fire emergency.

1. Create your own escape plan. ( Practice, practice, practice.
2. Games and info with sparky the dog.
3. Create a relay game. Set up cones and have your kids race while crawling on their hands and knees, just like they would do if there was a fire in the house. Have a cell phone (that is off) at the end where they can pretend to call 911. See more on this idea here.
4. My sister-in-law said that they practiced their escape plan as a game and dressed Dad up as "the fire." If he showed up in the hallway, for example, they had to turn around and find another way out. *She did say that this scared some of the younger kids b/c he tried to be a scary fire, so make sure you prepare them for this game!
5. Three-way Tag involving fire, trees, and water. Click on link for more details.
5. Set a meeting place together and practice racing out to the meeting place. Maybe do this at the end of your fire safety activities and have a treat here so they remember it. My kids seem to always remember things associated with treats.


If any of you have more ideas, please do share! Always SO good to be prepared.
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1 comment :

  1. WOW. SO glad that they caught the fire. Goodness, how scary.