Talking to your children about fire safety

Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Talking to your children about fire safety

It's a good idea to talk to your children about fire safety, how to avoid starting fires, and what to do if there's a fire in your home.

Children as young as five can learn what to do in a fire emergency. This is lifelong learning that they will take into adulthood. Children also need to understand that fire can be dangerous.

Talking about what to do in an emergency

If a fire starts in a room, a person has about 3 minutes to get out before the room is engulfed in smoke or flames that will kill them.

Teach your children to get out and stay out if there's a fire. If they see a fire or hear a smoke alarm, tell them to:

  • Get out of the house FAST (using your escape plan)
  • Shout "Fire Fire Fire!"
  • Go to the safe meeting place

Talking about fire

When talking about fire, children might ask about people dying in fire emergencies. You should provide truthful answers without making the child afraid.

You can tell your child about firefighters and how they rescue people in fires. However, sometimes firefighters might not arrive in time to rescue everyone. A fire can also be burning so fiercely that it's not possible to rescue people.

That's why it's so important to have smoke alarms and an escape plan to know what to do in a fire. Remember, get out, stay out.

The Get Firewise programme

Get Firewise is an in-school programme that centres around fire safety for children. We've developed it using current best practice in teaching safety information to 5 and 6 year olds.

Many children come home excited about what they've learned in the Get Firewise programme. You can use this as an opportunity to discuss fire safety around your home.

The programme encourages families to:

  • carry out fire safety checks and prevent fires starting
  • install smoke alarms in bedrooms, hallways and living areas
  • develop escape plans that include determining two ways out of every room and establishing a family safe meeting place
  • practise getting out of all the rooms in the house and meeting at the safe meeting place

Is your child lighting fires?

Fire and Emergency New Zealand offers a free programme to assist where young people are showing an unhealthy and unsafe fascination about fire.

For more information, check out guide to what to do if your child is starting fires.