Fire Prevention and Education
Teaching Children Fire Safety
Every day Americans experience the tragedy of fire. Each year more than 3,500 Americans die in fires and approximately 18,300 are injured. One of the major leading causes of residential building fire deaths and injuries for children under age 10 is "playing with a heat source" which includes lighters and matches. Children under age 10 account for 93 percent of deaths and 38 percent of injuries where the cause of the residential building fire was due to "playing with a heat source".
Sonoma County Fire Prevention Officers encourage parents to teach children at an early age about the dangers of fireplay in an effort to prevent child injuries, fire deaths and firesetting behavior in the future. Below are some facts about children and fire safety.
Curious Kids Set Fires
Children under five are curious about fire. Often what begins as a natural exploration of the unknown can lead to tragedy.
- Children age 14 and under make up 10-15% of all fire deaths.
- Fifty-two percent of all child fire deaths occur to those under age 5. These children are usually unable to escape from a fire independently.
- At home, children usually play with fire in bedrooms, in closets and under beds. These are "secret" places where there are a lot of things that catch fire easily.
- Too often, child firesetters are not given proper guidance and supervision by parents and teachers.
- Consequently, they repeat their firesetting behavior.
Practice Fire Safety in Your Home
- Supervise young children closely. Do not leave them alone even for short periods of time.
- Keep matches and lighters in a secured drawer or cabinet.
- Have your children tell you when they find matches and lighters.
- Check under beds and in closets for burned matches, evidence your child may be playing with fire.
- Develop a home fire escape plan, practice it with your children and designate a meeting place outside.
- Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
- Teach children the nature of fire. It is FAST, HOT, DARK and DEADLY!
- Teach children not to hide from firefighters, but to get out quickly and call for help from another location.
- Show children how to crawl low on the floor, below the smoke, to get out of the house and stay out in the case of fire.
- Demonstrate how to stop, drop to the ground and roll if their clothes catch fire.
- Install smoke alarms on every level in your home.
- Familiarize children with the sound of your smoke alarm.
- Test the smoke alarm each month and replace the battery at least once a year.
- Replace the smoke alarm every ten years, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Finally, having a working smoke alarm dramatically increases your chances of surviving a fire. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family
Preventing Water-Related Accidents
With the warm weather upon us, it’s nice to be in or around the water. Hanging out at the pool or the beach on a hot day is a great way to beat the heat.
Safety experts say it takes less than 2 inches of water and a few seconds for a small child to drown. The United States loses approximately 900 children each year to drowning related deaths and thousands more are hospitalized. According to a national study of drowning-related incidents involving children, a parent or caregiver claimed to be supervising the child in nearly 9 out of 10 child drowning-related deaths - it only takes a few seconds. Most water-related accidents can be avoided by knowing how to stay safe and following a few simple guidelines.
- Maintain constant supervision. Watch children around any water environment (pool, stream, lake, tub, hot tub, toilet, bucket of water), no matter what skills your child has acquired and no matter how shallow the water.
- Learning how to swim is essential if you plan on being on or near water. Many organizations provide swim instruction to people of all ages; check to see what classes are available in your area.
- Swim safe and sober - stay out of the water when drinking alcohol.
- No one should swim alone, including adults.
- Learn CPR.
- Make sure your home pool has a fence with a self-closing and self- latching gate.
- Do not keep toys in or around the pool. This may encourage children to reach and fall in.
- Keep a phone near the pool. In case of an emergency dial 911.
Sonoma County Fire Prevention Officers wish you a fund and safe summer.