Introducing Fire Safety to Toddlers and Preschoolers

June 3rd, 2010 by Dionna | 13 Comments
Posted in Children, Eclectic Learning, Preschoolers, Toddlers

2009-03-02 24Our toddler activity today is all about safety – let’s talk about how to introduce toddlers and preschoolers to fire drills and fire safety. Toddlers and preschoolers aren’t too young to start learning safety practices, we just have to be careful not to describe fires so graphically that we terrify the children. Following are some ideas to introduce fire safety to your little ones in a fun but educational way.

1. Talk When Kids Are Calm: Find a time to visit when your child is calm, fed, and interested. Connect the talk to something concrete or relevant: light a candle, talk about the fire engine passing by, point out the sound of a siren. If, during your talk, your child becomes too emotional, address her fears in an honest and comforting way and continue the conversation some other time.

2. Tour Fire Station: Most (if not all) fire stations welcome tours by families or groups. Just give them the courtesy of an advance phone call. Make sure that the person who gives the tour knows your child is young and that you are introducing the concept of fire safety. At the station, you will likely be shown the inside and outside of a fire truck, and you may even be able to talk a firefighter into sliding down an old pole. Take a camera!

3. Stop, Drop, & Roll Games: We all remember the saying “stop, drop, and roll” in case we see fire on our clothes. Help your child learn the phrase by turning it into a game. In our version, we run around and act silly until I say “stop!” I say “drop!” and we drop to the ground, and then I say “roll!” and we roll all over the place.

4. Practice Going to a Meeting Spot: Talk about the importance of getting out of the house if there is a fire. Choose a spot away from your house where the family will meet in a fire emergency – then practice meeting there!

5. Read Some Books: Books are a great way to introduce concepts to little ones. Here is a list of books about fire stations, firefighters, and fire safety: 1

6. Crawl Under the Smoke: Teach your children to stay safely under the smoke by making it into a game – see how low everyone can go as they crawl under pretend smoke. Or set up something for your children to crawl under (a blanket stretched between chairs) and pretend it is smoke.

7. Donate Stuffed Animals: Looking for a volunteer opportunity that your children can get involved in too? See if your local fire department has a program where the firefighters give stuffed animals to children who are involved in fires. Then let your children collect new and gently used (make sure gently used are acceptable donations) stuffed animals to donate to the program.

2009-03-02 148. Teach Basic Fire Safety: Show children items that are fire hazards and teach them that they are not for touching (at least not unless there is an adult helping). Teach children the basics of what to do in a fire (do not hide, check to make sure the door is not hot before opening it, go to a firefighter if you see one in the house, etc.).

9: Fire Drills: One expert says “Children do well when they have very clearly defined reactions prepared. Even if it means giving them specific words or phrases to use, make sure that they have a definite course of action in mind. Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse. Talking about what to do is helpful, but nothing will ingrain it in your child’s head like actually doing it. Practicing how to react is the single most effective way to ensure your child will react safely if confronted with danger.” 2 So make a plan, then practice it. Practice listening for the smoke detector (test it so they know what it sounds like), crawling under the smoke to get outside to your meeting place, feeling the doors, etc. Make it a game, but make sure they know the steps.

More Information on Fire Safety

Parents, make sure you are doing everything possible to keep your home safe and your family prepared in case of an emergency. Following are some websites that will help:

13 Responses to:
"Introducing Fire Safety to Toddlers and Preschoolers"

  1. Melodie   bfmom

    As a child care provider I went to a fire safety workshop last year and one thing – the FIRST thing – they emphasize for 3-5 year olds is teaching them to “Go to the firefighter,” because the first instinctive thing children do when there is a fire is hide. So when a firefighter comes into the house to look for the child they want the child to come to them when they call. Showing a child pictures of firefighters, especially with their masks on (because they do look and sound strange when they wear a mask), or meeting one in real life and explaining that they are there to help us can go a long way in preparing a young child for fire safety. They also encourage teaching children what is inappropriate to touch, like lighters, candles, matches, BBQs, etc. They have found that being open to having these things around to teaching children what they are and who can touch them is better than keeping children in the dark about what these items are for. My kids have learned the phrase “Keep away!” when they see matches or lighters and they come and tell me to move them without touching them. I highly recommend to any parents to take the parent workshop. I have the multi media classroom kit and we use it all the time to play games and learn over and over about fire safety. This is the link to the program.

  2. After seeing a fire on the news a couple days ago we decided to do some fire safety with Everett. Thanks for the great tips!

  3. Dionna   CodeNameMama

    Thank you Melodie – I’m going to separate #8 into two parts – one on teaching basic fire safety, and one on fire drills. They really do deserve their own headings :)

  4. Daisy   TooTooDaisy

    Good valuable post. Our bear has seen our local fire-station and enjoys waving to the firemen, but we have not been as proactive as we should be about safety training. A tricky thing that came up recently — I was explaining that he could not play with an electric cord because it could be dangerous and start a fire. Being 3, he of course asked “why”, and I didn’t have a ready answer that was straightforward enough for a tot. Any ideas?

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Good question! I’m going to put it to the wise parents on my FB page and see what happens.
      btw – I’ve read a few of your posts, but it says I have to have a WP account to comment :( Thank you so much for your comments on here the past few days!

  5. Colin Wee   superparents_au

    My son requested a Kung Fu Panda Birthday Party when he was six years old, so I got a few of my martial arts students and arranged a two hour long session for him. Nearly killed me. But one of the activities we used as ‘Shifu says’, played like simon says. A few of the things that we did differently however was to prep them into fire safety and abduction prevention drills. SO when we shout ‘the house is on fire’ for instance, they get down and crawl to the nearest exit. It’s good fun and supplements fire safety lessons. :-) Cheers, Colin

  6. MomAgain@40   karentoittoit

    These are such good tips! I never thought of teaching my children these! Thanks for reminding me, and for the practical advice!
    I’m sure it is very enjoyable games as well!

  7. This is such an important issue to write/talk about. I have thought about ‘escape routes’ and routines for various scenarios since my boys were little.By normalising the situation through games and role play it becomes less scary and hopefully will be coped with better should the event arise ( hopefully never!)Well done for raising the issue in people’s minds. Oh, and thank you for popping by and commenting on my blog – nice to have you visit! Sarah

  8. This is such an important subject. It is part of our preschool curriculum every year. Thanks for sharing it with everyone.

  9. katepickle   katepickle

    There has been a lot of fire saftey education (both for children and adults) where we live after devastating bush fires killed so many people a couple of years back. With new evacuation laws for preschool and school our kids all know fire safety inside and out – way more than I ever did as a child (though I didn’t live in a fire prone area like we do).
    The hardest part of fire safety for us has been giving our kids the skills they need to be safe but also reassuring them – there is still so much fear in our community about ‘the next big fire’.

  10. My 2 year old son has recently been talking a lot about Fire, thanks to two reccent false fire alarm starts in our house. Both occurred when I was cooking and created a little too much smoke on the stove and set the fire alarms off. My little boy has been very concerned ever since even though we have tried to explain to him that these events were both “false” alarms. I now realise he doesn’t actually understand what a “fire” is so I am glad you have posted these tips for fire safety education.

    I want to teach him to be aware without creating a sense of fear for him so I particularly like the books for children you have suggested as well as teaching him about fire safety through play activities.

    Thank you!

  11. Christie - Childhood 101   childhood101

    I love your description of the Stop, Drop, Roll game :) Thank you for sharing some very valuable and very relevant lessons.

  12. Marthese   romanticflair

    I enjoyed reading this informative post..thank you for sharing it!

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