Parents and other adults have a vital role to play in keeping children safe from fire.
It is important to talk to children about what to do if they discover a fire either at home or elsewhere – don't avoid it for fear of frightening them. Children need to know how to react, as there may not be an adult around to help or assist them when there is a fire.
Here is some basic fire safety advice to give to your children:
- If you see smoke or flames, leave the building immediately, closing the doors behind you if you can.
- Once you’re outside and safe, tell someone straight away – a grown-up if possible. Or phone 999 and ask for the fire service.
- Don’t go back into the building for any reason.
- Get out, stay out, and call for help.
Other key safety advice for parents, carers and families:
- Never leave a child alone in a room where there is a candle burning, an open fire or portable heater, or in the kitchen when the cooker is on.
- Use fixed guards around open fires and portable heaters, and make sure the pot and pan handles are positioned safely on the hob while you are cooking.
- Remember to switch off hair straighteners after use to avoid fire, and make sure you keep them out of the reach of children. Hair straighteners get hot enough to cook bacon and eggs and can stay hot for up to 15 minutes after they have been unplugged. This can lead to horrific burns for toddlers and young children.
- If your child starts to show a fascination with fire, engage them in conversation and explain to them calmly and clearly that fire can hurt or even kill. Also make sure your children know the consequences of deliberate fire setting, an outdoor fire can delay fire crews from getting to other emergencies where people’s lives are at risk. You can also contact your local Community Action Team for more advice and guidance.
- Explain to children that fire is a tool, not a toy, and talk about the different ways that adults make use of this tool e.g. candles for light, coal fires for heat, etc.
- Keep matches and lighters out of the sight and reach of children.
- Carry out regular checks for signs of fire setting behaviour, such as burn marks on carpets, beds, furniture or clothing, especially in your child's bedroom and try to keep combustible items such as newspapers and cardboard in a secure place in the house.
- Keep outbuildings, garden sheds and garages locked to prevent access to flammable items like BBQ gas canisters.
Wherever you are, it’s important that you and your family know how to escape if there is a fire. It doesn’t take long to make an escape plan and it could save lives, especially if you check and practice your plan regularly.
Research has shown that children can remain asleep when smoke alarms are sounding. Ensure that any sleeping children have been roused from sleep.
If you have genuine concern that your child could be capable of, or has shown physical signs of fire setting, then you should ensure that every room apart from the bathroom has a smoke alarm fitted. You should fit a heat alarm in your kitchen rather than a smoke alarm.
For further information regarding help SFRS can offer visit Firesetters Intervention and Re-education Scheme (FIReS) section of the website. If you are still concerned about your childs safety or their fascination with fire you can also contact your local community action team for further advice.
Corporate Parenting Plan
The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 identified the SFRS as a ‘Corporate Parent’. This means that we have a responsibility to understand and respond to the needs of care experienced children and young people and care leavers.
Our Corporate Parenting Plan 2023-2026 details how we will meet these needs and signifies departments across the Service working together to ensure we respond to our legislative demands and are able to deliver the agenda throughout the Service over the next 3 years.
Scottish Burned Children’s Club
Launched in 2001, the Scottish Burned Children’s Club provides a network of support to burn survivor children under the age of 18 and their families dealing with the lifelong scars of burn and scald injuries.
The main aims of the charity are twofold, firstly to help in the rehabilitation process of these children and to provide support to their family. Secondly, to play a key role in the reduction of such injuries by raising awareness of the problem and promoting safe practice in relation to the dangers associated with burns and scalds.
Child Safety Week
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is backing Child Safety Week in association with the Child Accident Prevention Trust. The campaign covers risks to children including burns and scalds, choking and strangulation, poison, falls, road safety, drowning and fire.
Child Safety Week is aimed at helping families remove these risks and create safer environments for children.
Make sure your home has working smoke alarms. The smoke from a fire can make you unconscious while you sleep and can kill your child in less than a minute. Consider fitting additional smoke alarms in children’s bedrooms, particularly where there are additional fire risks such as computers, game consoles, televisions etc. A specially designed 2023 Parent Pack has dozens of tips and includes colouring in sheets and spot the difference pictures to help you talk to your children about safety.
- Never leave a child alone in a room where there is a candle burning, an open fire heater or in the kitchen when the cooker is on
- Keep hair straighteners out of reach of children. Hair straighteners get hot enough to cook bacon and eggs! They also stay hot for up to 15 minutes after they are unplugged and unfortunately that can lead to horrific burns for toddlers and young children.