Teach your kids critical fire safety tips with this free printable fire safety scavenger hunt. Have fun with your kids and get peace of mind, too!
NOTE: THIS POST INCLUDES AFFILIATE LINKS TO PRODUCTS I HAVE USED AND LOVED, BUT AS ALWAYS FEEL FREE TO SHOP AROUND FOR THE BEST DEALS. SEE MY DISCLOSURE TO LEARN MORE.
Does your family have a clear plan of what to do if your house were ever to catch fire?
It’s been just over a year since we moved into a new house. All the boxes were unpacked ages ago, and we’re slowly working through the process of furnishing and decorating the space. However, one thing we hadn’t done until this week was to make a fire safety plan.
National Fire Prevention Week
This week (October 6-12) is National Fire Prevention Week, so I decided to make it an opportunity to prepare our family for an emergency. Hopefully, we will never have to use our plan, but there is power and peace of mind in being prepared.
According to the American Red Cross, if a fire starts in your home, you may have as little as TWO minutes to escape. Crazy, right? One of their main recommendations for families to prepare for a fire emergency is to make a plan of escape and practice it twice a year.
In fact, the 2019 theme for National Fire Prevention Week is…
Not every hero wears a cape. Plan and practice your escape!
I’ll admit, we have NOT done this…ever. And I’m gonna take a wild guess that I’m not the only one. Clearly, though, fire safety experts REALLY want every family to have this plan in place (and I can understand why).
SO, I hope you’ll join me this week in dedicating a little time (less than an hour, I PROMISE) to making our homes and families a little bit safer.
Teaching kids fire safety tips…the FUN way!
To make this project fun (because getting my three kids to do ANYTHING works much better when we make it a game), I created a FREE DOWNLOADABLE fire safety scavenger hunt you can use to check and prepare your home and family for a fire emergency. It’s really simple. You can download and print the packet below.
Before you launch into this activity with your kids though, take a few minutes to educate yourself on the latest recommendations for home fire prevention and preparedness. Here’s what you need to know (and teach your kids).
Key things to know and teach kids about fire safety
Read through this list on your own before you do the fire safety scavenger hunt. Then take time to teach your kids important facts about each item in the scavenger hunt.
- Make sure there is a smoke alarm on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
- Test each smoke alarm (monthly) to make sure it is functioning properly and so your kids know what it sounds like (You might want to warn kids to cover their ears).
- Replace batteries on smoke alarms each year or anytime they start chirping.
- Make sure you have a fire extinguisher on every level of your home, plus in the kitchen and garage.
- This is the fire extinguisher we have. You can sometimes get them on sale from Costco, too.
TWO exits from each room
- Help your children identify two exits from each room. This could be a door or a window.
- Make sure your kids know how to open the windows in the house.
- Consider getting fire escape ladders for bedrooms on the second floor.
- Teach kids to GET OUT and STAY OUT! Never go back into a burning building.
- Teach kids to GET LOW AND GO. Smoke rises, so crawling in a smoky room may make it easier to breathe.
- Teach kids that if the door is closed and they smell smoke or hear the fire alarm, they need to feel if the door is hot before opening it. If it’s hot, tell them to find a different escape route.
Outside meeting spot
- Choose a place as family where everyone will meet once safely outside. This place should be in FRONT of your house, where fire fighters will easily be able to see you.
- Good options include a mailbox, a tree, a light pole, a fire hydrant, or a neighbor’s front porch (you might want to okay this one with your neighbor). Just make sure your meeting spot is far enough away from the house that you would be safe from fire.
BONUS: Know how to call for help in an emergency
- Teach your children how to call 9-1-1 (in the U.S.) in an emergency.
- Make it clear that it should ONLY be used for emergencies, never as a joke. Kidshealth.org has great information to help you teach kids which types of emergencies warrant a 9-1-1 call.
- Have your children PRACTICE dialing 9-1-1. You may think your kids would know how to call for help in an emergency, but there’s a lot more to it than just knowing the those three digits. If your kids are like mine, they are pros at getting into your phone’s camera and take 1000 pictures of their foot, but do they know how to use it for emergencies?
- If you only have a cell phone at home (not a land line), do your kids know how to access the phone app?
- Do they know about the “emergency call” feature that lets them dial 9-1-1 without unlocking your phone?
- Do they know they have to press the green phone icon after pressing the numbers to actually call the number?
Related: Safety Skills: How to teach your child to memorize his phone number (Note: this post has a giant phone printable that would be great for teaching kids to dial 9-1-1)
Ready to get your kids involved?
Now, make an action plan and practice!
Now that you have identified where all the fire safety equipment is and set an escape route and meeting spot, practice it! Make sure that your plan works. If you have small children or anyone with a disability living in your home, choose which adults will be responsible for those who need help.
We have three kids, ages 7, 5, and 2 in our home. My husband’s brother, who uses a wheelchair, also lives with us. In the event of a fire, we have decided that I will be responsible for grabbing the three kids, while my husband will get his brother outside safely.
Also, make a shopping list for any supplies you need to update the safety of your home. When we did our fire safety scavenger hunt, I realized we did not have a fire extinguisher in the garage. We also don’t have fire escape ladders for the upstairs. Is there anything you need to get to meet safety recommendations?
Take time to practice your fire safety plan (experts recommend twice a year). Turn it into a game for your kids. Have them pretend to be sleeping, set off the fire alarm (using the test button) and see if they can successfully follow your fire safety escape plan. Create different scenarios (the kitchen is on fire, the door is hot so they must use a different route, etc.) and help your kids problem solve their way to safety.
Don’t forget to protect your important documents
The people in your house are certainly the most important, but it can be difficult and time-consuming to replace all of your important documents if they are lost in a fire. Last year, we bought a fire safe. It now holds our birth certificates, passports, marriage certificate, will, etc.
Consider creating digital backups of this information as well. We also have most of our important information saved in password protected files on a cloud storage server.
Hooray! Now you’re prepared!
Doesn’t that feel good? I hope you never need to use all these fire safety tips in a real-life emergency, but I also hope that you feel more peace of mind being prepared.
Happy Fire Prevention Week, everyone!