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Smoke Detectors: How to Explain Them to a 5-Year-Old

Children are never too young to be educated about fire safety and smoke detectors. Informed children are far less likely to panic in the event of an emergency.

Teaching your children about smoke detectors is a terrific opportunity for them to learn about fire safety.

  1. First, be sure to involve your children in changing batteries and testing the smoke detectors in your home. Explain the importance of caring for smoke detectors to ensure they work properly, letting your children hear what the alert sounds like so that they can recognize it in the event of a fire. Explain that when smoke detectors go off it is a warning sign. When they hear this noise they need to act quickly and exit your home.
  2. Then, explain fire safety basics in a way that children can understand.
    • You cannot hide from a fire. Young children commonly try to hide from fire by seeking refuge in a closet or under a bed. Be certain to make it clear, especially to young children, you cannot hide from a fire. Make your children aware of every exit in your home and at least two ways out of every room in the event of a fire.  Explain if they are afraid a friend or loved one is still inside, they should enlist the help of a firefighter or adult. Routinely practice fire drills and role play scenarios in different areas of your home to help strengthen the knowledge of safe exit strategies.
    • Crawl low to avoid smoke. Let children know if they see smoke, escaping on their hands and knees will allow them to breathe easier without choking and coughing.
    • “Stop, drop, and roll.” Another great strategy for children to memorize, this simple action could save their lives if clothing catches fire and is fun to practice.
    • Safe and unsafe. Help children learn to differentiate between toys and unsafe items. Bikes and balls are safe. Matches, lighters, and power tools are not. Instill a “don’t touch” policy on these and unknown items.
  3. Finally, help them retain this information with fun, engaging activities.  Using games, coloring books, role playing activities, and online apps really helps lessons stick, especially with small children. In addition, options like Chick-a-Dee smoke detectors offer a fun, less scary way to introduce young children to fire safety. Giving a birthday card (for mom and dad to write on the calendar later) with the installation of a smoke alarm also helps children to remember the importance of battery and smoke detector replacement.

Don't miss out on these great online resources for children’s fire safety:

  • Sparky.org  Featuring Sparky the firedog, this fire safety resource from the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) offers free printable teaching material for parents, safety lists and plans, cartoons, coloring and activity pages, crafts, online games, apps, and more.
  • Ready.gov The FEMA site offers parents a wide array of disaster preparedness materials, including fire safety information, checklists, and downloadable tools. For children, the site features a home fire fact sheet for kids with tips on being knowledgeable and prepared for home fires.
  • FireSafeKid.org   The Burn Institute offers a fun, interactive website to teach kids about fire and burn prevention including family activities and fun events.
  • FireFacts.org  Contains information for parents on educating children about fire safety and making the home fire safe, as well as games, coloring pages, and activities for kids.
  • Arthur’s Fire Safety Tips   Made especially for kids, PBS’s Arthur offers important tips and tools about dealing with fire.

Need to add or replace smoke detectors in your home? Contact Mr. Electric® today. Our professional technicians are dedicated to the safety of you and your family.