Of all the things that keep me from my slumber, a recurrent worry is a fire in my house. I picture in my head, insurance commercial style, hoisting my babies through the window, calling for the dogs, debating about grabbing my wallet. It is a horrific scenario, and given my inattentive approach to cooking, one I’ve been lucky to avoid.
The dayhome we found when I returned to work after my first son was born was run by a woman who volunteered with child burn victims; not an easy thing, I imagine. In our initial interview she described some of the fire safety routines she practiced with the kids at her dayhome, and I knew we had found the right place. Seeing my then two year old wiggle on the floor as he demonstrated “Stop, drop, roll” was equal parts unnerving and hilarious.
With all the things we want to protect our children from, there is the balancing act of “enough information to be useful” versus “so much information as to be terrifying.” Fire may be one of the easier ones, as you can build on your child’s instinctive fear of fire, and natural reaction of fleeing fire. The key is to educate the fear rather than allow it to be paralyzing.
Fire Prevention Week is an annual reminder to do just that. In 2014, Fire Prevention Week is October 5-11. You will likely see some literature come home from school, and it is well worth going over with your children. You can check out Sparky.org online as well. It is an American site but the most of the material isn’t nationally specific, plus has kid friendly activities that are age appropriate, attention-holding and accurate…the trifecta of educational material!
This year the theme of Fire Prevention Week is “Smoke Alarms Save Lives: Test Yours Every Month!” Did you know you are supposed to check your fire alarms EVERY month and replace them 10 years after the date of manufacture (the date is stamped on the back of every fire alarm) I didn’t, but I do now! It is also a good idea to have a fire drill in your home, complete with crawling to stay low and out of the smoke, and meeting at your agreed on meeting place in front of your home. I’m not going to lie, it feels a bit ridiculous, but I know you have done way more ridiculous stuff for way less compelling reasons.
Fire safety at home is not the only thing to bear in mind. Out on the road it can be difficult to maintain the same standards of safety you have at home. Grandma loves turkey, red wine and Partylite candles, so be vigilant! 75 years’ worth of Reader’s Digest piled in front of the window mean you need to find an alternate escape route.
Notice where the stairs and fire extinguishers are in your hotel. Learn how to use the fire extinguisher. In an emergency is not the time to reacquaint yourself with “how these thingys work” so if you aren’t 100% sure, leave it to the professionals and get out.
Fire can be a keep-you-awake-at-night worry, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little level headed preparation, you can feel secure in your well laid plans. I’ll keep my fingers crossed you never need to use them!
For more information about Fire Prevention week in Canada, see www.fiprecan.ca