Talking About Fire Drills with Kids

Stefania Pomponi Butler
May 15, 2009

Not that long ago, it was Fire Prevention week, and because she'd been studying about it at school, Bunny came home everyday and shared her knowledge with us. I used to love these safety-themed weeks when I was a kid and, like her, ate up all the information with a spoon.

Because we live in earthquake country, we had always talked about a meeting place outside our home should anything happen, but we hadn't really gone through what to do in case of a fire, a much more immediate danger.  So last weekend, we got together as a family, made a plan, and practiced it.

Our plans began earlier in the week as Bunny and I drew a map of our house and possible escape routes from every room in the home.  I reminded her about staying low, feeling doors, and looking out for her older sister.  On Saturday J. tested all the smoke detectors and the CO2 detector, put new batteries in the ones that needed them, and we ran through a few fire drills.

We all pretended to be asleep, then we rang a smoke detector and shouted, "Fire! Fire!" We watched from behind our bedroom door as the girls crawled all the way to the front door, ran out, and then waited on the neighbors' lawn.

We did this a few more times, then J. showed Bunny how to take the screen off her window and how she could get out on her own if the door was hot.  After some practice, she could do this just fine.  It's really important that you show your child how to get out their bedroom window (of course, much easier if you live in a one-story house) because Bunny was really worried about it until she realized that yes she was capable of taking her screen off and getting out the window by herself. I also showed her all the things in her room she could use to break the window and get out if she was having trouble.

This is the part of the process that freaked Wallie out.  She started to cry during this drill and didn't want to climb out the window.  I had to tell Bunny later that if it came down to it, she was going to have to help Wallie get out the window. I also explained how rare this situation would be and that in a real fire most likely Mamma and Papa would get to their bedroom in seconds.  But if. If she had to, she was to hurl Wallie out the window and not worry about hurting her.

This exercise was actually a great family bonding experience as well.  You never know how your kids are going to act under pressure, if they will listen, but after running through a few drills and seeing where the stress points were, it really gave us the information we needed to talk with each child more about how to handle a real fire.

Bunny's self-confidence seem to grow right before our eyes as she put everything she learned into practice, and Wallie was able to listen and follow serious directions more than we probably would have given her credit for. So take an hour out of your weekend this weekend and talk about Fire Prevention and Safety. You'll be surprised what you learn about your amazing kids.

Originally written by Stefania Pomponi Butler for CityMama.

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