Fire safety does not necessarily need to be a serious or scary topic for kids. The key is for the kids to learn how to escape from a fire safely; not to become scared of being in a fire.
Here are some fun activities for younger children to learn about fire and how to be safe:
1. Field Trip to the Fire Station
Since kids are sometimes frightened by firefighters and may even hide from them (as some do to any individual in uniform), adults can plan a special trip to take them to a fire station and introduce them to uniformed firefighters. Call the station and schedule an appointment in advance, so that staff can be on hand to spend special time with the children. Of course, plans could change if a fire call takes them away from the station.
** Due to Covid safety and restrictions, there are no visits to our fire stations at this time. Hopefully, we will be able to allow visitors to our beautiful fire stations.
Read children books about fire safety or, for the youngest kids, about fire trucks and their purpose, and fire stations. There are many on the market, such as No Dragons for Tea: Fire Safety for Kids (And Dragons), Stop Drop and Roll (A Book About Fire Safety), Fire! Fire!, and Home Safety (Adventures in the Roo World – Young Roo Series No. 4).
Take a walk around the daycare or school, or if at home plan a simple outing, and hunt for EXIT signs. Keep tally marks of all the signs found. Turn it into a game.
If possible, turn the lights off in a building and let kids see the EXIT signs remain lit and then discuss why.
As a follow-up, have kids create their own special EXIT signs as a project.
Play a game of “Stop, Drop and Roll.” This is a fun game for kids and the lesson taught can be invaluable. Also, create a game with “Stay Low and Go.” A teacher can press an alarm (use anything with sound) and then kids practice these skills as fast as they can. Be sure to explain when they should “stay low and go” and when it would be appropriate to “stop, drop and roll.” Children should be encouraged to cover their faces when rolling.
It's also important to teach kids to "cool and call" after they stop, drop, and roll. They need to cool the burned area (such as clothing) with water, and call for help from an adult.1
Plan a fire safety evacuation drill. In-home providers should practice this as well. Assign one child each day to hold a bell or other “alarm” and let them choose the time anytime throughout the day to ring it and shout “Fire! Fire!” and for the other kids to evacuate. Providers/teachers of older kids can create some unexpected roadblocks/obstacles from time to time such as taping up an imaginary fire that means kids cannot leave the building through that route.
Have kids brainstorm where they should go once they leave a burning house or building. Have parents provide this information so that teachers can reinforce it. A fun game is to have kids sit in a circle and the first whispers to the first kid, who then passes it to the next one, and so on, as to the meeting place. Sound the alarm, have kids meet at the place, and then the provider or teacher must find them.
Let children look, touch, and experience a smoke detector alarm. Make a counting game of having them count the number of detectors in a building or at a home. Have them ask their parents if the batteries have been changed recently. For older kids, turn the hunt into a scavenger hunt, complete with fire-safety related clues.
8 Bubble Escape
To help kids practice crawling low to the ground, blow bubbles a few feet off the floor and have them crawl under them. Kids should try to reach their destination without letting any bubbles land on them. When leaving a smoky room, kids should keep their heads less than two feet off the ground.
Teach kids how to call the fire department in an emergency. Make sure they know to call from outside the house (by using a cell phone or a neighbor's phone; they should not search the house looking for a mobile phone before leaving). Make sure everyone in the family knows the emergency number by heart, whether it is 911 or another number for your location. Kids also need to know their home address.
Have kids draw a floor plan or map of their home or school. Then have everyone point out two different ways to escape from each room (e.g., a door, a window).