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Teach your Children about Fire Safety

Updated: Jun 26

by Sheila South

a The Kids & Me Contributor

We never think an accident will happen. That's why they are called "accidents".

May of 2021 our next door neighbor had a kitchen fire which started from a paper towel that caught fire from a burner on which a pot of grease was heating. The paper towel lit, heated the pot of grease which caught fire, which subsequently caught the kitchen cabinets on fire, and burned the ceiling and the appliances. It spread fast!

Thank goodness for the fire extinguisher gifted to us years ago. When our neighbor came to our door to get the phone for the 911 call, hubby rushed next door with the extinguisher. Neighbor's visiting grown son used it to contain the grease fire. Neighbor, her son and the 2 dogs were safe. The fire department was there shortly and they did extensive work to assure the threat of fire was gone. [THANKFUL FOR OUR FIREFIGHTERS!!!!!] Six months later, repairmen were still working on neighbor's kitchen.


  • Never let ANY paper products be around your stove.

  • If you don't have a fire extinguisher for your kitchen, you should get one today. And learn how to use it.

  • NEVER leave a grease pot on your stove unattended.

  • A sheet pan or fitted metal lid laid on top of the grease pot is a great way to subdue a grease fire until help can come. (Of course the pot needs to be moved off the burner and the burner needs to be turned off as well).

  • NEVER USE WATER on a grease fire. It will splash grease and spread fire.

You can find more information about grease fires here.

The story is not over.

June 2024, just 3 years later, our across-the-street neighbor had a destructive fire caused by an electrical issue. This was certainly not something a single fire extinguisher would have helped by the time they discovered the fire; it took 4 fire trucks and emergency personnel 40 minutes to extinguish the flames. [THANKFUL FOR OUR FIREFIGHTERS!!!!] The mom, dad, child, and elderly father all made it out safely, but the two dogs perished. While the scenario was unfolding, I was reminded of the several firefighter presentations for schoolchildren I have seen and what I learned:

  • A child's first instinct in an emergency with smoke filling the house might be to be scared and HIDE. Additionally, the firemen can look scary! Firemen are totally covered in heavy clothing, a gas mask, and oxygen tanks; they look like aliens stepped out of a spaceship -especially in the dark and smoke. Teach children that the firemen are not there to hurt them and that they should always GO to the fireman. Show them pictures or video of what firemen look like in their gear. Or take them to a fire safety presentation. Great resource here to cover these issues with your kids:

  • Life is more important than whatever is in your house. Get out with your family. Have a plan where to meet (like the mailbox) so no one goes back inside looking for someone missing (even Rover or other pets).

  • Have escape mechanisms in place for 2nd story rooms besides the inside stairs. Teach the children to use the escapes.

  • Smoke inhalation can be just as dangerous and life-threatening as the fire itself. Smoke rises. Crawl down low to avoid smoke; stop-drop-and roll (vigorously) if flames get on you.

  • Sleep with your bedroom door closed. If you hear the smoke detector/ fire alarm ring, feel the door to see if it is hot. Don't open it if it is. The backdraft can explode on you. Instead go out a window. Teach your children.

  • Test your smoke detectors/fire alarms monthly to assure they are working properly. Test them when you pay rent or mortgage so it will be a regular habit. You can get fire alarms from your fire department. [As a side note, you should also have a carbon monoxide detector installed and tested monthly.]

Take time TODAY to tend to training about these issues for your family! Accidents don't happen on purpose, but being prepared does.

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