By the age of two, children become aware that fire is hot and keep away from it. As they grow older they need to be taught is how to get out of the house safely if ever there is a house hold fire. It would be prudent to first point out the places where a fire is likely to start, like the kitchen stove. They should also be told that a fire could start anywhere in the house due to short circuiting and various other factors.
Teach them about the tell-tale signs that signify that there is a fire in the house somewhere. They may smell smoke before actually seeing it. Metal parts like door knobs and window grills will become hot. They may actually see the flames and it may seem hotter than usual. Demonstrate how they should crawl on all fours if there is any smoke to get out of the room. They can place a hanky, preferably wet, to minimise breathing in smoke.
Take them to each room of the house and explain how they can escape from that room in case of fire. Get them to open windows and latches so that they are able to do so if the need arises. If the latches are out of their reach, they can stand on a chair or a table to reach it. If the window is too high, they could throw pillows out of it and then jump on them. Sheets and bed linen could also be used. Tell them that the most important thing is to save themselves and not worry about any belongings.
Select a place a short distance from the house where they should reach after getting away from the fire. It may be a neighbour’s house or a clearing near the house. Instruct them to remain there till you arrive.
Older children can be made to practice how to use a fire extinguisher. They will be able to judge if the fire is small enough to be put out or if they should rush out and get help. They should be strictly forbidden to re-enter the burning house till the fire department gives the all clear signal.
After the explanation, the fire drill should be practiced often. Make it a game and all should participate in it. At a given signal all should crawl to the point of escape. Each one should use a different escape point and this should be rotated in future drills. Everyone should then congregate at the predetermined meeting point. This practice will go a long way in keeping children safe in the unfortunate event of house hold fire.