Does anyone remember the fire safety drills songs that we sang on repeat in primary school?
We ask you this because not that long ago, we asked a little girl if she knew what stop drop and roll was. Her answer… no. She had never heard of that rhyme before and had no idea why we were saying it to her.
It struck a chord in us. If no one is teaching the next generation of these simple chants that stick with you into adulthood, how can we expect them to know what to do in an emergency of a house fire?
This month is all about educating our youth on how to be fire safe and get out safely if a house fire occurs.
Every home needs to have a written fire escape plan, and you should share and practice it with your children regularly. As a minimum, the escape plan should have two exit points from every room and a safe meeting place outside. You also need to take into account limitations like the elderly, babies or someone living with a disability.
You must teach your children how to identify the signs of a possible fire and talk about smoke alarms; what they do, where they’re located and emphasise the importance of them. Other symptoms of a potential fire hazard are seeing orange and smelling smoke. Let me know if they hear the alarms go off or see a fire, they should never hide but call for help and head to the nearest exit.
So what do we say when we need to leave the premises to avoid the fire?
Drop down low, and GO, GO, GO!
The safest place in a fire is low to the ground because the air is fresher and cleaner. Training your fire escape plan with children is crucial because they are more likely to remember what to do and less likely to panic if a fire is happening and when they are scared.
So what happens when you’re caught alight?
Stop. Drop & Roll.
We need to teach kids to stop where they are and not run around, giving the flame more oxygen to burn. They need to know to drop to the ground straight away and cover their eyes and mouth with their hands – this is to prevent smoke inhalation or irritation to the eyes. Then, they need to understand that rolling over and over back and forth will extinguish the flames.
Children often get confused about when to stop, drop, and roll. Stress the importance of knowing when to do this behaviour and only do it when clothing catches fire. Children who do not have a good understanding of stop, drop, and roll will sometimes do this if they burn a finger or need to get outside if the smoke alarm sounds. Using stop, drop, and roll under the wrong circumstances could be very dangerous.