One challenge to preparing for emergencies is always how to talk to the kids about it. Clearly we need to make sure the kids know what to do in case of emergency, BUT if you have sensitive kids like I do, you’ll have to make sure that you do this in a way that doesn’t keep them up at night worrying.
October is Fire Prevention Month, so we realized this was a great time to make sure that all of our Fire emergency plans were made clear to every one in the family. We partnered with First Alert to help us make plans and keep the kids having fun along the way.
I have discovered that the best place to start an important conversation like this with your kids is by asking them questions. It’s important to know what they think they should do in an emergency, because oftentimes it will shine light on some ideas they have about how things would go, that you would have never thought to cover.
My son, for example, sees himself as a legitimate super hero. He told us that in the event of a fire, he would personally rescue each member of our family. It never would have entered into my mind to tell him NOT to go try to rescue any of us, because he’s only SIX. Since I started by letting him talk and asking him questions about what he already thought, it gave me a much better place to begin talking about safety measures, and how six year olds shouldn’t worry about rescuing mommy and daddy.
There are some great resources on the First Alert Fire Prevention Month page. These can give you the tools you need to make this planning process FUN. My son wasn’t quite sure why I was handing him a graph at first (photo below). When I explained it was for him to draw out an escape plan from him room, he was immediately excited and began acting out his different escape ideas. We talked about how he needed to have two exit plans, not just one, and he was excited to draw them out.
These fun printables made it feel more like a game, and had him focusing on the safety methods, instead of imagining what it would be like if our house caught on fire. The perfect way to prepare a child!
The last step in getting the kids ready is agreeing on a meeting spot. I don’t want the kids wandering into the street or getting lost. When you practice your escape routes with the kids, make sure they know where to go outdoors after they escape the house. Only 27% of families take this extra step as part of their emergency preparedness plan, but it is so essential! If your child escapes but isn’t somewhere you can easily find them, you may put yourself or some one else in danger trying to search the house for a child. Make certain everyone meets at the same spot so that there is no confusion in the middle of an emergency.
You can also use fun videos like this one below to help go over some of the most important steps a second time. Repeating the same information in a few different ways can really help them retain what you’ve talked about!
After doing printables and talking through escape plans with the kids, take the bulk of the preparation on yourself. One of the most important things you can do is make sure that all of your fire alarms are in good working order. Check the batteries regularly and be sure you replace the alarms themselves as needed too.
One thing I did not realize until recently is that no smoke or CO alarms last longer than 10 years. We purchased our house several years ago but we have no idea when the alarms were last replaced. Our house is older, so it could have been 10 years or more since the smoke alarms were purchased, we have no way to know. I’ve now added replacing fire alarms to my list of things to do whenever I move, just to be on the safe side.
It’s also important to keep track of when the last time you replaced your alarms was, if you own your home. Make sure you are testing your alarms monthly AND replacing them as needed (definitely don’t let them go past 10 years!).
When you replace your alarms, it’s a good time to upgrade them too. Look for devices with 10-year sealed batteries, this will improve your protection and eliminate the need to replace the batteries throughout the entire lifetime of the alarm. Depending on your home’s unique needs and your local legislation requirements you could also look for combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never shopped for fire alarms of any kind before, and I didn’t realize there were so many options. This is so important for our family’s safety so I didn’t want to just blow it off. If you feel in over your head about all this as well, here is some information I’ve found that can help you when you are choosing which First Alert alarms are best for your home.
You want to make sure that you have an alarm on every level of your home and in every bedroom.
The SA3210 provides great overall protection because it has both types of smoke sensors recommended by the National Fire Protection Association.
The P1010 is a great option for bedrooms.
the PRC710 provides smoke and CO safety
The CO710 is a nice table-top addition that can easily be added to any room!
For more information about which alarms are best for your home, visit the First Alert site. I appreciated how easy it was to use and research the best alarms for our home’s specific needs.
Have you gone over a fire safety plan with your kids yet? What ideas do you have to make talking about a potentially scary topic fun and engaging for the kids? Share with us in the comments!