Fire Safety: 30 Years of Working with Fire Rescue to Help Kids Stay Safe

balance blog fire safe imageThis fall will mark 30 years of partnership between Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center and Sioux Falls Fire Rescue. Together, they have helped educate preschoolers in our community about burn prevention.

This week, preschools, child care centers, and home child cares will transport about 500 children to the Washington Pavilion’s Belbas Theater for puppet shows featuring Elvis the Hound Dog, Cowboy Zach, Norman and other puppet friends. Children will learn about Stop, Drop and Roll, what to do if they find matches, lighters or anything dangerous, and how to have a grown-up check their bath water temperature.

Each child will receive educational materials including puppet safety cards, coloring books, and bath temperature cards.

Parents play an important role in fire safety education. Here are some basic safety concepts that children need to learn. When your child brings fire prevention materials home from school, take the time to reinforce the concepts with them.

Teach Danger and What to do With Matches and Lighters: Teach your child what dangerous means—anything that could hurt you. If you find something dangerous, don’t touch it or play with it. Tell a grown up and they will put it away.

Stop Scalding Burns: Every time your child takes a bath or shower, check the water temperature for him or her. Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees to prevent scald burns that can occur when a child turns on the faucet to wash hands, and the water temperature is too high.

Practice the Stop, Drop and Roll Drill: Practice what to do if your clothes catch on fire. Instinct would tell us to run, but that’s the worst thing you can do. Running feeds the fire with oxygen and makes it grow bigger. Teach your child to stop, drop onto the ground and stretch out, cover your face with your hands, and roll back and forth as fast as you can to smother the fire. Preschoolers don’t have very strong stomach muscles, so they will need to practice often to learn to roll quickly.

Work on Fire Alarm Drills at Home: During the day, teach children to go to an exit door immediately. Practice what to do if the smoke alarm goes off at night. Since heat and smoke rise, getting out of bed and standing up is the worst thing to do. Instead, teach family members to roll out of bed onto the floor and crawl to the nearest exit. Check the door knob; if it’s cool, you can open it and crawl to safety. If it’s hot, that means there is fire on the other side. You will need to find another exit.

Here are some additional fire-safety-at-home tips you can employ to keep your kids free from harm:

  • Make sure you have working smoke alarms on all levels of your home. If you need help with smoke alarm location or installation, contact your fire department.
  • Identify two exits from every area of your home; practice exiting with your family
  • Identify a family meeting place outside your house so you can account for every family member in the case of an evacuation due to fire.
  • Teach older children how to open a window if they can’t exit through the door, and throw toys and bedding out to alert firefighters
  • Keep matches, lighters, lighter wands, and any other fire starting equipment away from children. Even if a lighter says it’s child resistant, a child can still figure out how to use it.
  • Turn pot handles to the center or back of the stove top instead of hanging over the front where a child could grab it; avoid letting appliance cords, including iron cords, dangle over the edge of a counter where a child could grab it and pull down a hot appliance
  • Turn off appliances, irons, and hair care appliances like curling irons, and unplug when not in use
  • Keep children away from grills, fire pits and other outdoor fire sources
  • As your child gets older, take the time to teach safe use of the stove top, microwave and other appliances

When schools, community organizations, and parents work together, we can reduce the risk of burns and other injuries to our children. You can learn more online, too.

Doniese Wilcox

By Doniese Wilcox

Certified Family Life Educator at Avera McKennan

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