Monday, March 16, 2015

8 Ways to Make a Home Fire Drill Fun for Kids!

When visiting classrooms I often ask the children, ‘who has ever done a fire drill at school?’ Hands shoot up around the room with excitement. Then I ask, ‘who has anyone ever practiced a fire drill at home?’

Often we assume our children know the drill - get out and call 911. It’s important we not only talk to our children about our plans but that we also put them to practice. We recommend each household practice a home fire drill twice a year. It doesn't take much time and can be fun!

Here are a few ways to practice a home fire drill:

1. Sheet of Smoke: Get low and go full speed crawling.

Grab a bed sheet, open it up, with two people holding each side 3 feet above ground. Take turns crawling under the sheet of smoke (grown-ups too).

Smoke rises leaving the 3 feet closest to the ground with the cleanest air. Studies have shown you are three times more likely to be injured by the smoke, asphyxiation than by being burned in a home fire.

2. Too Hot to Handle: If it’s hot on the back of your hand, back away.

Shut all doors in the home and do a walk through with the children. Before opening the door to each room they must place the back of their hand on the door knob.

  • Let them know they are checking the temperature
  • Ask them, ‘if this handle were hot what would you do next?’
  • Help them to identify a secondary exit from each room

3. Can you do it blindfolded? Your alarms could go off in the middle of the night and smoke can make it hard to see. Blindfold family members and help them to navigate out of the house in the dark.

4. Somebody Call 9-1-1: Well not unless it is a real emergency but it’s great to practice mock 911 calls and the questions they may be asked.

  • What is your location? Emergency responders can’t be sent until they know your location.
  • What is your emergency? Help children articulate potential emergencies they may need to be prepared to phone 911.

5. Its Go TIME: Get your stop watches ready! Can you escape in less than 2 minutes? The only way to really know is to time ourselves.

6. Ready to Roll? Stop, drop, and roll that is. We all know these three little words but do the little ones in our household know when to act? (answer: when you’re on fire)

While practicing your drill at any time one family can yell out to another ‘YOU’RE ON FIRE’ whoever is called out must react immediately by stopping, dropping to the floor, and rolling.

7. You Can Do It! Building confidence is in large part the point of practicing fire drills. We want our reaction to smoke alarms to be quick and safe. Alarms going off can be scary and children may want to react in the same way they would react to other scary situations. Hiding under beds or in closets is not uncommon, Firefights know this and look in those places but time is limited and we want children to act with confidence and get out of the home safely.

Sit down with the kids and have them draw out all the times they felt strong. Maybe they had won a trophy or award for sports or playing an instrument. Maybe they felt strong when they did well in school or learned to ride a bike. Having a visual aid will help them to remember all the times they were strong and give them the confidence to overcome whatever obstacles they are faced with.

Kids participating in the Pillowcase Project

8. Go All Out: Out the windows even! It’s not every day a grown-up says it’s okay to climb out your window.  Anything this wild is bound to be fun, from the first floor that is. 

Over the years windows can get difficult to open. It’s easy to theorize the escape route but sometimes practicing it you find little dilemmas. Practice as if it were the real deal.

Check out our website to learn more fire safety tips. Comment below sharing other fun ways to educate children on fire safety or other disasters!

Korri Faria
AmeriCorps NPRC 2014-2015
Preparedness Coordinator
American Red Cross Central California Region

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