How to Teach Fire Safety to a Child

The U.S. Fire Administration reports that 52 percent of all children who die in residential home fires are younger than 5 years old. In most cases, they die because they can't escape from a fire by themselves. Your child needs to know how to get out of the house on her own because you might not be able to help her. Teaching her what to do if a fire breaks out could save her life.

Safety Basics

Educate your child about fire and its dangers. Explain that getting burned from fire isn’t the only risk. Your child should know that inhaling smoke and fumes are other fire-related threats to his safety 1.

Test your smoke alarm so your child knows what it sounds like if it goes off. Change the batteries in the smoke detectors in your home before they go dead so that the chirping or beeping that indicates a depleted battery doesn’t frighten her.

Instruct your child not to hide from firefighters. Explain that firefighters help get people out of burning buildings quickly. Tell your youngster that even if he is frightened, he shouldn’t hide under his bed or in a closet because that could make it harder for a firefighter to find him.

Plan more than one escape route out of the house. Show your child how to open a window in case that’s the only way out.

Practice home fire drills. Experts recommend practicing fire drills in the home at least twice a year so your child knows what to do. The National Fire Protection Association warns that fire spreads quickly, leaving your family only a couple of minutes after the smoke alarm goes off to make their way safely out of the home.

Choose a place where family members can meet once they get outside. Pick a location that will be a safe distance from the fire. Tell your child to stay out and not go back inside the house for any reason. If a family member or pet is missing, advise her to tell an adult at the scene.

Escaping Fire

Instruct your child to get out of the house immediately and not stop for anything. Make it clear that he shouldn’t even stop to call 9-1-1.

Show your child how to crawl low on the floor. Explain that smoke rises so she needs to stay below the smoke. Warn her that she might have to feel her way as it could be nighttime and dark. Thick, black smoke from fire can also make it hard to see.

Tell your child to cover his nose and mouth to keep from breathing in dangerous fumes as he makes his way out of the house. Before opening a door, tell him to touch the door -- not the doorknob -- to feel whether it’s hot. If the door is hot, he shouldn’t open it but find another way out.

Teach your child to remain calm if her clothing catches fire. Show her how to stop, drop and roll to put out the flames. Emphasize that she shouldn't run if her clothes are on fire and that she should cover her face with her hands as she rolls.