Teaching your child about fire prevention, plus, ways to stay safe should a blaze break out.


Hearing stories about a home being razed in a fire makes everyone nervous ― especially parents ― whose first thoughts are for their munchkins’ well-being. Fire accidents can occur anytime, anywhere and very often end disastrously. The last thing anyone wants is to imagine their kids being caught in one.

Unfortunately, residential fires in Singapore are on the rise. Just this week, Singapore’s Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo pointed out in Parliament that in 2016, 70 per cent of fire injuries in Singapore came from blazes in homes. A decade ago, residential fires were lower, at 40 per cent.

Fire safety is an important subject, especially for children, yet it is one parents often neglect to teach.

In a move to lower the numbers, the Government has also announced that it will be fitting all new homes with battery-operated smoke alarms.

While this initiative will certainly help to reduce the number of fire injuries and fatalities, education is also key. Fire safety is an important subject, especially for children, yet it is one parents often neglect to teach.

Prevention is definitely better than cure in avoiding fires, so, it’s important to let junior know what to do should one break out. This is even more important if both you and your spouse are working and your kiddo is left at home with a caregiver.

So, follow this easy 7-step guide to teach your tyke about fire safety and prevention.

Rule #1 Don’t play with fire

Seems pretty straightforward, but it’s not enough to just tell your munchkin not to play with fire. You also have to let them know why it’s dangerous and what happens if they do. It’s not about instilling fear in them, but rather to equip them with all the facts, so they’ll act better. Show junior items that can cause fires such as, matches, stove ignitors, cigarette lighters and lit candles. It’s also a good idea to show junior how to use fire safely, so as to reduce his curiosity about playing with fire hazards such as matches.

Rule #2 Always be alert to fire hazards

Once junior knows what causes fires, he can look out for potential fire hazards. Make sure to tell him that if he finds a box of matches or a lighter, he should bring it to an adult at once. The same goes for stove flames that are too close to a dish rag or paper towels. Or lit candles that are too near the curtains. Show it to him, so he knows exactly what to look out for. Bring junior around the house with you when you check for fire hazards, such as old and loose electrical cords, unused power switches that are on or accumulated cigarette ash.


Rule #3 Fall and crawl

If a fire breaks out at home, teach junior that his first course of action is to immediately get down on his knees and crawl his way out of the house. This is the safest form of escape as he’ll avoid heavy items falling on him or inhaling too much smoke.

Rule #4 Stop, drop and roll

If junior’s clothes or hair catches on fire, tell him not to panic. A quick drop to the ground and a roll around should help to put the flames out. Urge him not to run as it will only cause the fire to burn faster.

Stress to your mini-me that under no circumstance should he run back into the burning building, even if it is to retrieve his favourite toy or pet.

Rule #5 Don’t hide in the house, go outside

If the fire starts in the house, your kiddo must know that however scared he is, he should never hide indoors. He needs to find his way out, so that he doesn’t risk being trapped in the blazing house. Once outside, he should wait for more instructions from an adult or stay put at a designated safety spot. Also, stress to your mini-me that under no circumstance should he run back into the burning building, even if it is to retrieve his favourite toy or pet.

Rule #6 Follow the escape plan

Now that you’ve shared the rules with junior, put it down in a comprehensive plan. Include points like what junior should do if he smells smoke in the middle of the night. Alert the kid to the various exits in the house and ways to escape from every room, especially if one way is blocked by fire. Also pick a location outside where everyone should meet. This can be anything from a nearby park, a big tree or even your neighbour’s house.

Rule #7 Know your emergency numbers

Draw up a list of easy-to-reference emergency numbers. Numbers not to be missed – the fire department and ambulance (995), as well as the police (999). Also include everyone’s mobile numbers, and an emergency contact, such as a close relative, grandparents or a trusted neighbour, who will be able to respond immediately. Hang this list where it’s easy to see and reach for and run through it with the kiddos regularly. Here’s a simple and comprehensive one you can print out today!

Photos: iStock

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