Teaching kids how to appropriately respond to a fire can be very difficult, particularly when teaching children with special needs. Today Susan Penney is here to share some tips for how to effectively teach children to safely respond to fires by putting a fun spin on the old “Stop, Drop, and Roll”. Hope it helps!
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Photo credit: Bethany Nowviskie
No parent wants to imagine her child’s clothing catching on fire. But we can increase children’s chances of avoiding serious or even fatal burns by teaching them to the Stop, Drop, and Roll Technique.
Officially, the newer version of Stop, Drop, and Roll is “Stop, Drop, Roll, Cool and Call.” The last two steps are the ones we adults must do: Proper first aid to “cool” the burn and “call” for emergency help if needed.
So let’s focus on teaching the steps a child might need to do even independently of adults:
(1) Stop: Stop right where you are. Don’t run. Don’t try to pat out the flames.
Why: Running provides additional oxygen to the fire, thus fanning the flames.
(2) Drop: Drop to your knees while covering your face with your hands. Pull elbows in against your body.
Why: The hands provide some protection to the child’s eyes and airway.
(3) Roll: Roll like a log, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
Why: The rolling smothers the flames.
Fire safety instructors have found that too many children overgeneralize. When asked what they should do if their house catches on fire, they answer “Stop, drop and roll.” So when teaching Stop, Drop and Roll, always say, “If your clothes catch on fire, then Stop, Drop and Roll.”
The girl in the photos below is still in the learning stage. Notice how she can drop and cover her airway (first image) and she can roll while remembering to keep her elbows against her chest (second image), but she cannot yet combine these. This is a great example of why this life-saving maneuver is worth both teaching and practicing with young children.
Below are four appealing, active-learning ways to teach young children this fire safety technique.
(1) Musical Stop, Drop and Roll
Remember musical chairs? Expand that general idea to teaching Stop, Drop, and Roll. Tell the child to walk, crawl, or dance around the room until she hear the music stop. When the music stops, the child stops. When that is mastered (with giggles and praise, we hope!), successively add components. When the music stops, the child:
- Stops and covers her face
- Stops and covers her face and drops
- Stops, covers her face, drops and rolls
If your child has trouble with the concept of rolling back and forth, tell her, “Roll to me,” helping her start her roll if need be. Then move behind her and say, “Now roll back to me.” As you run from one side of her to the other, challenge her to roll the other way before you get there. If it all turns a bit silly and fun, you have succeeded in teaching a serious life-saving skill in a memorable way.
Few skills are mastered without review or practice. So following are some ways to engage your child in practice. Remember to use the phrase “If your clothes catch on fire, then Stop, Drop, and Roll” so your child remembers through repetition when to use this technique.
(2) Masking Tape or Felt Flame Tag
Let a piece of masking tape or flame-shaped cut-out of red felt represent fire. Take turns sticking it on each other’s clothing. As the one with the flame stops, drops, and rolls, both of you call out the steps: “STOP! DROP! ROLL!”
Practicing calling out the steps not only helps children remember the sequence but also makes it more likely they will spontaneously call out instructions to another child whose clothing has caught on fire.
(3) Red Sock Stop, Drop and Roll
Fill a red sock with tissues or paper and tie it shut. The sock “fire” is tossed. If it touches a child, the child stops, drops, and rolls as all chant the steps. That child then tosses the sock.
This is just a variation on the child’s game Duck…Duck…Goose! to use with a small group of children. All but one stands in a wide circle. One child walks around the outside of the circle. As she passes each child in the circle, she taps the child on the head, shoulder, back or arm and says either “Safe!” or “Fire!” If she calls “Fire!” when she taps, that child stops, drops, and rolls, and then becomes the next tapper. Add additional spice to the game by letting the child on the outside of the circle use the felt flame, piece of masking tape or paper-filled red sock to tag a child.
Of course, preventing house fires and protecting children from open flames are our first priorities. But teaching children what to do in the event of fire is also our responsibility.
For additional home fire safety tips, visit http://www.fireplacemall.com/blog/category/safety.
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Susan Penney, owner of FireplaceMall.com, is a former classroom teacher, reading specialist, college instructor, and homeschooling mom. She now satisfies her pedagogical urges by teaching her old Samoyed new tricks.
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