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Sugar House Journal

Teachers get lesson on teaching fire safety

Dec 06, 2016 15h48 ● By Natalie Mollinet

Play Safe! Be Safe! has a website that helps young children learn about fire safety. (Website screenshot)

By Natalie Mollinet | [email protected]

The holiday season is a time when fires and candles are lit and the flames often spark curiosity in children. In fact, in pre-school aged children fire-related deaths account for 23.3% of unintentional deaths. So, two months before the holiday, teachers in the Salt Lake City School District  learned how to teach kids about fire safety. 

 “Kids are curious,” said Molly Clifford, executive director of Community Health Strategies of Play Safe! Be Safe!. “They don’t know the impact fire can have because they’re not developed enough to understand.” 

The organization Play Safe! Be Safe! is a program that travels the country helping pre-k teachers learn how to teach their young students about fire safety. The program started in 1994 and since then has held more than 180 workshops on teaching fire safety. The program not only involves seminars, but they offer an interactive website to help young kids learn about fire safety. 

“We have four lessons that we teach,” Clifford said in regards to what a child should do if there is a fire. “One, go to the firefighter; two stop drop and roll — everyone’s favorite; three crawl under the smoke and stay low and away from the fumes; and four, fire prevention, if you see a lighter or a match don’t touch it.” 

The seminar and program has gotten positive feedback, including the one held at the Salt Lake City Library. 

Teachers agreed they liked how the lessons support the classroom environment and how the lessons can be taught in the home. 

The program distributes kits to the teachers with the four lessons of fire safety. The program’s research has found that children have easy access to lighters and matches and when they see their parents using them, they want to use them, too. Young children don’t understand the problem with lighting a match and dropping it on the floor, so the Play Safe! Be Safe! program has been effective  teaching children how to act around flammable household items. 

Clifford said that it’s important to teach young kids about fire safety because of their natural curiosity. “They need to be educated, for example, that matches and lighters are grown-up tools and that their job is to tell a grown-up if they see matches and lighters left out.” 

The program’s online source also helps kids who aren’t pre-k and can be adapted to help them learn about fire safety, too. 

“If their kids visit there’s all kind of information for kids and parents that teaches those four lessons,” Clifford said. “Parents think that if they talk to their kids that they’ll get ideas, but we see that they (matches and lighters) are around them all the time and fire is just a natural part of their lives.”