Habitot Children's Museum

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Habitot Children's Museum

Habitot Children's Museum
2065 Kittredge Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 647-1111

Parenting Q&A

Parenting Question of the Month How can I keep my toddler and my home safe from fires?


Parenting Q&A October is National Fire Safety Month, and a great time to review fire prevention and fire safety. Fires and burns are a leading cause of injury and even death for children, especially among preschool aged children.

Preschoolers are responsible for a disproportionate number of home fires, often caused by playing with matches and lighters. Children’s natural curiosity about fire—its color, heat, and movement makes it both fascinating and mysterious—combined with lack of supervision, access to matches, lighters or oven knobs may result in home fires or burns.

Whatever the cause, it is crucial that your family have a plan in place in case the worst does occur. Home fires are frightening and in a moment of fear and stress, you may not take the most appropriate actions. Having a plan, thinking about it in advance and practicing it can help. Even children as young as 2 or 3 who are well coached can understand what to do when the smoke alarm sounds. Fire prevention and having a plan are proactive steps to protect your family against fire emergencies in the home.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Eliminate potential hazards in your home. Look around for potential problems such as loose wires and overloaded outlets. Cover outlets and oven knobs with safety devices. Leave any necessary electrical work to professionals.

  • Install an adequate number of smoke detectors in your home and have an approved fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Minimum protection requires smoke detectors outside each bedroom and on each additional story of the house. Check batteries on all detectors at least twice a year—a great way to remember is to check them when you turn your clocks forward and back for daylight saving time. Take your fire extinguisher to the fire department annually or if used for recharging.

  • Have fire drills at home. Fires are frightening and can cause panic. By rehearsing scenarios for getting out of the house, calling 911, using fire extinguishers, staying low and crawling to avoid smoke, using wet towels to cover your mouth, etc. your family won’t waste time trying to figure out what to do. It will become automatic.

Preventing fires depends on being proactive. Get the entire family involved. If everyone knows the plan and preventative measures, not only will you avoid a home fire, you’ll also instill a sense of responsibility in your kids. And you just might save a life!

Parenting Resources

Healthy Child Publications. Fire Safety Education for Young Children. HealthyChild.net, 2012. Web Article: http://www.healthychild.net/SafetyFirst.php?article_id=541

KidsHealth. Fire Safety. KidsHealth, 2012. Web Article: http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/home/fire.html#

U.S. Fire Administration. Teaching Children Fire Safety. 2012. Web Article: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/parents/curious.shtm

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