Seven steps to teaching children fire safety

October 12, 2000

Seven steps to teaching children fire safety

Teaching your child | By Lisa Tedrick Prejean

My 21-month-old daughter points to my coffee cup and says, "ott."

That's also her term for the stove, dryer and curling iron.

When I taught her not to touch these things, little did I know that was the first step in teaching her fire safety.


But that's the starting point in Seven Critical Lessons on Fire Safety, a curriculum developed by Mike Weller, Life Safety Educator for the Hagerstown Fire Department.

Prekindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade teachers in Washington County schools are teaching these lessons with the help of kits provided by the Washington County Fire and Rescue Association.


The kits have ice trays and candles to show the difference between hot and cold. There's a video, "Be Cool About Fire Safety," the CD-ROM, "Carmen Sense Fire Safety," and other items.

The kits have been a real help in the classroom this year, says Becky Myers, a kindergarten teacher at Eastern Elementary School in Hagerstown.

Students are learning the basic concepts of fire safety they should know before attending Children's Village in second grade, Weller says.

"This is utopia for us. The teachers teach it, the parents can reinforce it, and we'll be visiting the schools," Weller says.

Firefighters will explain how they do their jobs and why safety is a priority for them, too, Weller says.

Weller and Myers say parents can follow through at home by helping their children with these concepts:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Stay away from things that become hot - matches, lighters, heaters, candles, the stove, food from the microwave and hot tap water.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> There are good fires: a fireplace being used for warmth, a campfire, a stove being used to prepare food.

And there are bad fires: a house on fire or someone's clothes on fire.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Fire is a tool, not a toy. If fire is used inappropriately, you could get hurt or killed. If you find matches or a lighter, don't touch them. Tell an adult.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> If your clothes catch on fire, stop, drop and roll. Cover your face, hold your breath and roll over until the fire goes out.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Smoke alarms are important safety tools. Just like an alarm clock is a tool that tells you when to get up, the sound of a smoke alarm is a signal to take action.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> If you hear a smoke alarm, crawl low under smoke. Smoke rises during a fire. Stay close to the ground where the air is cleaner.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Have an escape plan, complete with a meeting place. Practice it as a family. Choose the safest and fastest way to get out of your house. Check doors with the back of your hand to see if they are hot.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Dial 911 for help in an emergency. There's a difference between an emergency: a house on fire, a crime in progress, etc. - and a nonemergency: a scraped knee, sore throat, etc. Teach your child his address.

Review the lessons with your child:

Ask him, "What should you do if your clothes are on fire?"

Correct answer: "Stop, drop and roll."

Ask, "What should you do if you hear a smoke alarm?"

Correct answer: "Crawl low under smoke."

Children often give the "Stop, drop and roll" answer for both questions. Make sure they understand the difference.

For a copy of "Carmen Sense Fire Safety" Interactive CD-ROM, go to

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