This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of First Alert© in partnership with Forward Influence. The opinions and text are all mine.
Fire safety and preparing your home and family for the possibility of a fire or carbon monoxide leak are very close to my heart. Today, I want to share with you how to prepare your home for a fire, and 4 Fun Fire Safety for Kids Activities.
Is Your Home Prepared for a Fire?
In school, fire safety is a prominent part of your routine.
How many of us remember monthly fire drills – and standing out in the brutal Canadian winter, waiting for the fire trucks to come and “clear us” to return to class?
But for all of those times that we practised our fire drill at school, I only remember going over our family’s fire plan once – even though residential fires are still the leading cause of fire-related deaths.
As parents, there are so many things we do (or even obsess about) to keep our kids safe.
Most of us could never imagine leaving our children alone in a car. Or letting them ride their bikes several blocks away from the house.
Goodness, most of us won’t even let the kids play on the lawn without supervision.
But fire safety is sometimes a blind spot. And it truly one of the most important things that we need to take precautions on and prepare our children for. According to the Canadian National Fire Information Database, 80 percent of fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms, often due to missing alarm batteries or expired alarms.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that smoke alarms be installed on every level of the home, including the basement, inside each bedroom and in the main corridors, and carbon monoxide alarms should be installed on each level of the home and in a central location outside each bedroom.
However in 2017, a First Alert survey of Canadian households showed that more than one-third (35%) of Canadian homes do not have a CO detector installed and the majority of Canadians do not have the recommended number of smoke alarms installed to protect their home from the threats of smoke and fire.
Most alarms should have their batteries replaced every six months – however, if you have a 10-year alarm, you can just test the alarms regularly. If you can’t remember or don’t know how old an alarm is, it is best to replace the entire unit.
The risk of dying in a reported home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Carbon Monoxide poisoning is the number one cause of accidental poisoning in Canada and is responsible for more than 300 deaths each year. CO is an invisible, odorless and colorless gas that can be produced by any fuel-burning device, such as a furnace, boiler, stove or car. CO alarms are the only way to detect and protect your family from this poisonous gas.
First Alert offers several smoke and CO alarms equipped with 10-year sealed lithium batteries. The tamperproof, sealed lithium battery powers the alarm for a full 10 years, eliminating costly battery replacements and annoying low battery chirps.
4 Fun Ways to Fire Safety for Kids Activities
Fire safety can be scary for kids – but it doesn’t have to be.
I previously detailed a few ideas for making fire safety fun for kids in this post, and today I wanted to add on some new suggestions.
While we want kids to understand how serious fire safety is, we also need to get them to really listen and not be afraid of the information that we are sharing.
Stop, Drop and Crawl
You’ve heard of “Stop, Drop, and Roll” – well, this game is “Stop, Drop, and Crawl!”
Explain to kids that if there is a house fire, they need to stay as low to the ground as possible as they get out of the house. Smoke inhalation is a leading cause of fire-related deaths.
Crawling is the best way to do this and we developed a fun activity to really drive that concept home – by setting up a sort of “obstacle course” by using blankets to form a smoke barrier, and having the kids crawl under it.
Getting kids to actually crawl is 35x more effective than just telling them to crawl.
Draw Fire Plans
Talk to kids about the various ways to get out of your home. Yes, this may seem counter-intuitive to parents of little Houdinis, but if your children are in the basement, you want them to know how to open those windows and safely escape a potential fire.
My daughter and I sat down and drew a floor plan for our home, with the exits and ways to get out clearly labeled – along with our “meeting spot.” I then encouraged her to decorate the floor plan before I laminated it.
We then did drills of getting out of the house – both together, and independently. It took some practicing for my daughter to understand that she was not supposed to come find me if we were in different parts of the house when the whistle blew. She really didn’t like leaving the house without me and meeting me in our “meeting spot” – which made it so important to me to get her comfortable with that concept in a low-pressure situation, because if she wasn’t comfortable when there was no fire, she’d probably be even more afraid when there was one. It took a few tries (on different days) but I think she’s getting more comfortable with the practice and I’m becoming more confident that if we were to have a house fire, she would be able to follow the plan.
Pretend to Be a Firefighter
We live a few doors down from a fire station, so my daughter and daycare kids have always loved pretending to be firefighters. The best part about this activity is that it reinforces that firefighters are the ones who put out fires – and we talk clearly about how we are to never attempt to put out a fire on our own.
For this activity, you will need:
- laminated picture of a house or object (or you can just use a clean piece of plastic – like a container lid)
- red, orange and/or yellow finger paints
- spray bottle filled with water
Have your child paint on the laminated picture with the fingerpaints to make a “fire.”
Put the picture somewhere where it can get messy – like over a bin or bath tub.
Let them then use the spray bottle to “put out the fire” – the paints will wash away and leave a clean house or surface.
Make a Firefighter Costume (And Visit Your Local Fire Station)
My daughter loved this activity – and couldn’t wait to show it off at our local fire station!
To make a DIY Firefighter costume, you will need:
- Two 2L pop bottles
- Black spraypaint
- Yellow, red or orange duct tape or washi tape
- Red or Black ribbon or shoelaces
- Paper plates
- Red paint
- Silver or gold paint
The oxygen tanks are a bit technical and use grown-up craft supplies (spray paint and strong tape), but kids can really take the reins with the paper plate firefighter hats.
Have kids paint a small firefighter badge or symbol on one edge of their paper plate, if desired. (As shown.)
Paint the rest of the paper plate red, and let dry.
We also painted the bottom edge of the plate, but that is optional.
Leaving a 4″ piece of the plate attached to the edge (across from the symbol), cut along the ridge of the plate, about 2″ in from the edge. Fold up the inner circle so that it stands perpendicular to the outer edge of the plate. You can cut it to a shape resembling a firefighters hat or leave as a circle.
For the oxygen tanks, remove labels from the pop bottles and spray paint black.
Once the paint is dry, use tape to connect the pop bottles together. This also adds a design element to the oxygen tank.
Cut the ribbon to form a large loop that you child can move their arm in and out of. If the loop is too big, you can tie the ends or add a clip – too big is better than too small!
Use a 5″ piece of tape to attach the loop to the back of one of the oxygen pop bottles. Repeat, forming a second loop and attaching.
You can also draw a firefighter symbol or write “FIRE DEPARTMENT” on the oxygen tanks. I actually used chalkboard paint so we will be able to change out what the tank says.
When’s the last time you checked your fire alarms or CO detectors? If switching to a 10 year model sounds like a good fit for you, be sure to check out the First Alert website for details and other tips on keeping your family safe.