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For the health & safety of your family: do you practice regular fire drills? At what age do you start this?

By March 5, 2009 - 12:58pm
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I just attended a lecture regarding fire safety, and I wondered how many families actually practice fire drills in their home? I learned about the difference between smoke detectors and heat detectors (never knew there was such a thing!), and the biggest thing I learned: if there is a fire in your home, it is no longer recommended to get down and crawl...there are toxic chemicals (from carpet, other plastics, etc) that are in the air towards the ground. We all know not to stand up (where the heat and smoke are) to escape, so the new thinking is: the best way to get out of your home uninjured is to keep your head at doorknob level.

I'm wondering what you do for fire safety in your home? Do you have smoke detectors in every room? Do you have heat detectors? Do you have a fire extinguisher? Do you have a plan and practice fire drills?

I have a 2 year old, and we were told to practice turning on the smoke detector in the middle of the night and practice getting out of the house in 1 minute. I think this would freak him out...what do you think??

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HERWriter Guide

I think it's a bit dramatic to do it in the middle of the night and unnecessary. It's not something I'd do. With young kids, I think it would do more harm than good. A night-time practice will only work when it makes sense to the kids and they understand the purpose/cause and effect.

If I wanted a "real life" experience, then doing it at nap time in the morning or afternoon would suffice, I should think. A two year old is not old enough to appreciate or cognitively understand a literal, real-life middle-of-the night practice. They sleep deeply at nap time, so it can be done then, if a real-life experience is desired.

Making sure carbon and fire detectors are in good working order as well as fire extinguishers is more important than doing a 2am practice! That and teaching your children to never go back in the house for pets or favorite toys. That's a crucial part with kids, they get very emotional over their loved ones (real or stuffed!) and don't understand that once out of the house, they have to stay out.

Preschools also teach this - my kids had a local fire marshall in, and my 5 year old is taking Safety Town this summer. You can also call your local fire department and take your son (when he's older) on a tour - they allow this all the time. My son went to a birthday party that was a tour of a fire station and then lunch at a nearby restaurant, it was awesome!

March 7, 2009 - 8:31am
EmpowHER Guest

Good idea. We did it when our kids were younger but it's time for a renewed look at it.

March 7, 2009 - 8:18am

Alison, I think if I turned my own smoke detector on in the middle of the night and tried to get out of my house in a minute, it would freak ME out, much less a two-year-old!

Would it help somewhat to just practice in the daytime how long it takes you to both get out of bed, get the baby out of the crib and get outside? In the daytime, the sound might not scare the baby as much. And to plan what you would do if the hallway was blocked, etc?

This page from KidsHealth.org seems to focus on kids once they are in actual beds of their own -- it says that kids will often try to hide from a fire, under their bed or in the closet. So at the age where they are in a bed of their own that they can get out of on their own, they need to know where they are supposed to go if they ever hear that sound, just like at school:


And here's an interesting experiment that was done by the National Fire and Protection agency and a Minneapolis TV station with four families, all of whom had children:


It'll be interesting to see what other families with young children do in this regard.

March 6, 2009 - 10:13am

We didn't do this as often as we probably should have when the kids were little. I remember being paranoid about not being able to get to the fire extinguisher, or that it would have lost its charge, or that my daughter should have an escape ladder handy in her room. The kids knew they were to get out of the house and go across the street to our neighbors (our daughter's godparents).

We have a carbon monoxide detector, but it's currently unplugged; and the smoke detectors need to be put up (we're in the midst of remodeling). A lot of good unplugged or unmounted detectors will do, eh?

March 5, 2009 - 8:26pm
EmpowHER Guest

We never had did this when I was little. But we did have Dick van Dyke on t.v. telling us to Stop, Drop, and Roll!

March 5, 2009 - 1:31pm
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