Protecting your family against potential fire threats, especially babies and toddlers who are less aware of the danger of fire, is an important part of ensuring your home is a safe and secure environment for your little ones. Because most fires occur in winter months between December and February, we are using this winter to share fire safety tips for families with babies and toddlers:
- Winter is the season to build a warm, cozy fire in your fireplace. Use a hearth gate around your fireplace to prevent children from crawling or walking too close to the fireplace. It also keeps them at a safe distance from raging flames or sparks that may escape from the fireplace. Be sure to practice standard fireplace safety to ensure your fire remains small and smoke does not accumulate in your home.
- While precautions should be taken around the fireplace, you may be surprised to know that most dangerous residential fires do not come from the fireplace. Most fires that occur in homes are actually cooking-related. Never leave a stove or oven in the “On” position unattended and keep children at a safe distance from these hot surfaces. Lock ovens and use back burners on the stove to avoid burns. Also, keep dish towels, aprons, wooden spoons and bulky clothing away from flames.
- Never leave a cigarette unattended in your home and never smoke in bed. Discard ashes and cigarette buds only once they have completely cooled. Smoking is the second leading cause of residential fires and the leading cause of fatality from home fires. Best practices are not to smoke around children anyways. Secondhand smoke can be very damaging to their little lungs and it teaches them a bad habit.
- Do not overload outlets and keep clutter, including paper, books and clothes, away from electrical outlets. Also ensure that heating devices are in good condition. Have them serviced regularly if you are concerned.
- Store matches and lighters in child-proof cabinets that are out-of-reach of children. From a young age, start teaching your children that matches and lighters are not toys. Also, never leave burning candles unattended.
- Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and perform a safety check regularly. Change batteries as often as necessary to ensure they are always in operating condition. Smoke detectors can prevent up to 50% of residential fires.
- Keep fire extinguishers in several locations to ensure they are not far from a potential fire. A fire extinguisher should always be accessible to your kitchen.
- Develop a family escape plan in case of a fire emergency. Even if your baby doesn’t know it, you and the other adults will be on the same page about procedures in the event of a fire. If one parent is responsible for getting the children safely out of the home, it may eliminate confusion during frantic moments. Ensure older children know the plan and discuss it with your toddler as soon as he’s able to understand fire safety. Practice your plan once your kids are old enough to role play.
- Take your kids to a fire station as an outing secretly designed to teach them about fire safety. Children love firefighters and may be more interested in learning fire safety tips from them than you. Plus, they may get to sit in a fire truck or get a fun tour of the fire station as an added bonus.
We hope you stay safe this winter with these fire safety tips!