October is fire safety month, and it’s such an important time to review (and introduce in many cases) fire prevention tips and fire safety awareness. In addition to the books and cute fire truck snacks your kids will make, you will need to teach about potential dangers and what to do if students ever find themselves are in a fire situation.
Begin by talking with students about things that can cause fire, such as unattended candles, irons toppling off boards, overloading sockets, hot oil in pans on stove tops and playing with things that can cause fires, such as matches and lighters. Brainstorm what students should do with each, for instance, remind dad to blow out the candle when we leave a room. (My brother was a firefighter – did you know that slamming a door on a room of candles can create a draft that in turn causes the candles flame to jump onto flammable materials?)
Phones have changed and continue to change rapidly. Many students no longer have a landline at home. It is important that children understand how to use a phone in an emergency situation. Use your own phone to demonstrate how to access the emergency phone if a phone is locked. Talk about the 911 phone number and how to press the green number to make the call. In your newsletter to parents, ask them to show their children how their phones work, and get them to practice saying their name and address clearly. And remember to teach that they only call 911 when they are safely out of the house, unless they are trapped.
Get Out and Stay Out
Inform parents that you will be talking about the safe meeting place that the family will find one another in the event of an emergency, and have them talk with their child about where that might be. Suggestions include the mailbox at the front of the house, a neighbor’s house or a nearby tree. Emphasize that the students must not return to find people, pets or toys. Firefighters are experienced and have special equipment and training to deal with fires. The rest of us do not.
In a Fire
Things to practice with your students in school:
- The fire drill. Practice BEFORE you ever hear a fire drill alarm. Explain that it will be loud and that’s a good thing because it makes sure that everyone can hear it no matter where they are in the school. Where do students go if they have left the room to go to the office or the bathroom? What happens if they are at specialist classes? What if you are all on the playground? In the cafeteria? Telling your students now (and reminding them monthly) of these things reassures them that there is a plan and all they need to do is what you have taught them.
- Go low and stay low. Teaching and showing appropriate videos of how smoke rises to the ceiling reinforces that staying low is the best place to get better quality air if the room is filling with smoke.
- Stay by a window if possible. Don’t hide under beds or in closets. Firefighters will be looking for you.
- Stop, drop and roll. Practice with students in the classroom, and don’t forget to have them cover their eyes with their hands.
You can find my fire truck safety flip book craft with the above pages here. Teach it one page per day – 5 pages total, one for each of fire safety week! (Fire Safety week is always the week that includes October 9, the date of the Chicago fire of 1871).