Sharon Cooksey, Safety Educator, Kidde, partnered with local fire departments in Oakland and San Francisco to answer questions.
In some cases, children are home alone either before or after school - if they accidentally start a fire or a fire occurs, they should get outside as soon as possible and stay outside. They should ask an adult to call 9-1-1 or call from their cell phone.
It's helpful to create a plan and make it second nature by practicing it on a regular basis, in case a fire starts and children are stuck in a room they can't get out of. Everyone should know two ways out, one of them can be a window, if available. It's also helpful to place towels under the door to prevent smoke from coming in until help arrives.
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Children should never play with lighters or matches - this type of use starts a lot of fires.
It is not recommended for children to use appliances or stovetops when home alone - this includes toaster ovens, ranges, and the cooktop.
If a child smells smoke, they should tell an adult immediately, but call 9-1-1 if they're home alone (also see note above about getting out).
Lt. Jonathan Baxter, San Francisco Fire Department, says the tops tips for staying safe begin at home. Plan and post up an evacuation plan that designates how to exit the safely. Take time at family events to come up with a specific topic and spend five minutes discussing them, for example:
- not playing with matches
- creating an escape plan
- knowing what to do when you hear a fire alarm go off
- practicing your emergency plans
Lt. Charles Lightfoot, Oakland Fire Department, encourages teachers and parents to get involved in the lives of kids to create a safe environment at home. Challenging kids to participate in safety plans can save lives. Children should know the phone number of parents or relatives who can be contacted in an emergency.
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