Firefighters are encouraging local families and child carers to make simple checks around the home as part of this week’s Child Safety Week.
The annual campaign is run by the Child Accident Prevention Trust, and the theme for 2012 is “Small steps to safety”.
Small steps such as testing your smoke alarms and making sure candles and matches are out of reach, or a glance down the hall to ensure an escape route is clear in case of a fire, take just seconds but can save lives.
Chris Bailey, head of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety team, said: “Getting into the habit of taking a quick look around the room for hazards is a simple step that will make safety an automatic reflex for any parent or carer, and help give real peace of mind.
“Another really vital thing mums and dads can do to keep their family safe is talk to their children about the importance of fire safety and make sure they know what to do if the worst happens.
“Fitting a smoke alarm and involving the children in testing it regularly can also help keep them alert to the danger of fire and – most importantly – provide the vital seconds you need to escape in an accidental house fire. This could develop a life-saving habit for the future.”
Here are Chris’s top tips for a safer home:
Keep candles, lighters and matches well out of children’s reach, and never leave burning candles unattended.
Make sure children know that the kitchen is not a play area. Never leave younger children alone in the kitchen when you’re cooking, and never let them play near the oven and hob.
Teach children not to poke anything, especially fingers, into sockets.
Regularly role-play escape routes and give children the responsibility to keep escape routes clear.
Encourage your children to check that keys are in the correct place. Keys for windows and doors should always be kept in an accessible place so you can get out quickly in the event of a fire.
Make sure children know which number to call in an emergency. They should also know their address. Explain the importance of only calling 999 in a real emergency.
Fit and maintain a smoke alarm – A working smoke alarm can give you the vital time you need to escape a house fire. You should have one on each level of your home and test it weekly.
Don’t remove the batteries – If your smoke alarm keeps going off accidentally while you are cooking, don’t remove the batteries. Instead move the alarm or change it for one with a silencer button.
In the event of a fire, get out, stay out and call 999. Don’t delay for valuables, and don’t investigate or try to tackle the fire. Use a mobile, a neighbour’s phone or a phone box to call 999. If someone needs to be rescued, wait safely outside for the firefighters who have the equipment and training to do it. Never go back in.
To find out more about Child Safety Week, go to the CAPT website at www.childsafetyweek.org.uk