Pola watches with pleasure as her cake is brought into the room, topped by five radiant candles. Family and friends sing “Happy Birthday. ” She makes a wish and easily blows out every the candles. Everybody applauds.
At the age of three and half, Pola has already learned a lot about fire, at least as she has experienced it in those birthday candles. She’s learned that fire is fun, friendly – and easily controlled. Unluckily those beliefs, shared with a few unsupervised minutes and matches left within her reach could lead to disaster.
No one would desire to take away Pola’s joy in her birthday candles, or in the lots of pleasant family activities that engage fire – camping, barbecuing, cooking and religious ceremonies. But we do require educating children, including very young children, that fire is an adult tool. And we need to teach them the life safety skills that can save their lives in a fire. The following suggestions for teaching fire safety to little children are based on widespread research we have conducted: Young Children and Fire When the majority people hear the expression “juvenile fire setter, ” they picture an anxious teenager. But that’s not the case at all. One in four fires is set by kids under the age of five.
Is there something awfully wrong with these children? Not at all. They are usual, inquisitive children who mean no harm. They set fires not out of malevolence but because fire is fascinating, and because they don’t understand the cost.
Yet the fires set by young children can have disastrous results. Almost 80 percent of the fires started by preschool children caused some amount of structural injury – more than two times the rate of structural damage in the fires started by children five and older. The possibility of injury resulting from a fire started by a child under five is three times the likelihood of injury in a fire started by an older child.
And the chance of death in a fire started by a preschool child is 28 times the chance of death from a fire started by a child five or older. Why? Young kids start fires almost entirely in the home, which increases the likelihood of both property harm and injury. In fact, children are most likely to start a fire in their own bedrooms– where they spend much of their free time, feel relaxed, where parents suppose they are safe, and where a fire may stay unobserved by adults for some time.
Teachers, Parents, and Firefighters Working Together for Fire Safety As per nursery teacher training course in mumbai fire education must start in preschool. It must be developmentally suitable, and must be planned to make a difference. Simple awareness is not enough. Children need clear rules and specific skills, as described below. Creating a partnership with local fire departments is a great way to help children learn about fire safety. Here in Rochester, we have developed Adopt-a-School programs that support a relationship between firefighters and their neighborhood schools and preschools. Periodic visits from firefighters are important. Just having them visit to have lunch with the kids and read them a story can be further effective than official presentations. When children feel relaxed with the firefighters, they will raise questions and express concerns, and are more probable to listen to and follow suggestions. Teaching Fire Safety With preschoolers, it’s best to stick to the ABC. Start with two simple rules meant at preventing children from setting a fire: •“Matches and lighters are adult tools. ” We have found it helpful to connect matches and lighters to other adult apparatus. Even very young children usually realize what tools are. If you ask kids what power tools their parents use at home, they’re always excited to list them. They’re usually also fast to confess that adult tools, especially potentially dangerous ones like power tools, are not for children. Highlight that matches and lighters are also adult tools, and just as unsafe as power tools. “Go tell a grown-up. ” early childhood care and education advises that teaching children that matches and lighters are for adults only isn’t sufficient. Instruct them to go and tell an adult if they find such tools lying around, no matter where. Emphasize that they should not pick up these tools and bring them to a grown-up (you wouldn’t want them to pick up and carry a spherical saw, after all), but should tell a grown-up who will put them away carefully. “Tell an adult” is effective because it gives children something they can do, not just something they can’t. Kids love knowing they “have a job” to do to help keep their families protected. They also love telling their parents something when they know they’re correct! This positive support gets children to assist with fire safety rules. Reinforcing the Lessons at Home Emphasize that one of the most important things parents can do to prevent a disastrous fire is to keep matches and lighters actually out of reach. Parents may be amazed the first time their child tells them they’ve left out some matches! Many parents can’t visualize their children ever “playing with fire. ” They presume their children are as afraid of fire as they are, or are too young to find or use matches and lighters. They may also assume that if they use child-resistant lighters, they don’t need to be as careful about fire safety. Although child-resistant lighters are helpful, they provide only a momentary margin of safety. Given sufficient time, many children find ways to light them. Lighters of any kind should never be left out in clear sight. Few parents make out a possible danger until the child and the danger are in the same room at the same time. Matches left out on the counter are not seen as a danger until a child approaches them. Left unattended, a child moves effortlessly about the house and will find and try out with matches long before a parent notices. Work with the children to assure that parents set up and maintain smoke detectors. More than half of all deadly fires occur while the occupants are sleeping. Smoke detectors provide a serious early warning, waking people before they are trapped or injured by smoke. Smoke detectors should be installed outside every sleeping area and on every level of the house, including the underground room. Test smoke detectors monthly and change all detector batteries twice a year (doing so when altering the clocks for the beginning and end of Daylight Savings Time is a good reminder). Give confidence to parents to develop and practice escape routes in case of a fire. E. D. I. T. H. (Exit Drills in the Home) is a national effort to support parents to sit down with their families in the present day and make a step-by-step plan for evading in a fire. •Draw a floor plan of the house, marking two ways to get out of every room. Talk about run away routes with every member of the family. •Agree on a meeting place outside where everybody will meet to wait for the fire unit. This allows you to let the fire unit know if anyone is still inside the house. •Carry out your escape plan twice a year. Have a fire drill, and be sure to practice different escape routes. Imagine that some exits are blocked. Make sure everybody in the house can unlock all doors and windows speedily, even in the dark. Practice is important to be sure your exit plan will work. You don’t want to find out in the middle of the night that the window you hoped to go up out is painted shut or too small to get through. Working together, teachers, firefighters and parents can make sure that Pola and other young children will be protected, for many more birthdays to come.