This guidance has been put together for parents and anyone looking after children, including childminders.
Reducing risks to children
The best way to teach children about fire safety is by example. Let your children see you being sensible and careful about cooking, candles and other potential risks.
Electrics and heaters
- Teach children not to poke anything into sockets – this includes fingers!
- Consider getting plug guards to cover sockets.
- Make sure electrical appliances (TVs and computers) in children’s bedrooms are switched off at night.
- Fit a childproof guard in front of open fires or heaters – the best ones can be fixed to the wall.
- Make sure children don’t play near fires and heaters to avoid them getting burnt.
- Don’t leave children unsupervised in the kitchen.
- Avoid using the front of the hob when small children are around.
- Make sure that saucepan handles don’t stick out to avoid them being knocked.
Matches, lighters and candles
- Remember to keep things that can cause fire out of children’s reach.
- Position lit candles and tea lights out of children’s reach.
What your children should know
You will want to make sure that children are always safe. This includes teaching them how to prevent fire and what to do if there is one.
You will probably need to talk about fire safety with children more than once. This is to make sure that they have remembered and understood what you have taught them.
As a general rule, younger children – around five and below – should be given clear instructions about what they should and shouldn’t do. With older children, it’s better to explain why.
It’s important that they know how to prevent fire:
- Not to touch or play with matches, lighters, candles, electrical appliances and sockets.
- To tell a grown-up if they see matches or lighters lying around.
- To be extra careful near fires and heaters.
- Never to switch on the cooker.
- Not to touch saucepans.
- Not to put things on top of heaters or lights.
- If you see smoke or flames, tell a grown-up straight away.
- Get out of the building as quickly as you can if there is a fire.
- Don’t go back for anything, even toys or pets.
- Find a phone (you might need to go to a neighbour).
- Call 999. Ask for the Fire Service and tell them your address (you might want to practise making this call with children, making sure they know their address).
- Only call 999 in a real emergency.
- Never hide if there is a fire. Get out as quickly as you can.
Share these safety messages with your children so they know what to do in the event of a fire:
- If there’s smoke, crawl along the floor (the air will be clearer down there).
- Go into a room with a window if the way out is blocked. Put bedding or towels along the bottom of the door to stop smoke getting in, open the window and call for help.
- If your clothes catch on fire, remember to stop, drop and roll.
Have an escape plan
- Plan an escape route and make sure that children and childminders/babysitters know it.
- Practise the escape plan together with children.
- Be careful to keep all exits clear.
- Think about how you would get out if your escape route was blocked.
- Keep door and window keys where everyone can find them.
Young children will enjoy the story of Frances the Firefly, which helps strengthen the message about not playing with matches.
Information for childminders
If you are a childminder and look after children in your home, you must comply with the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This requires that you carry out a fire risk assessment of your home, and record and act on any significant findings. You should review your fire risk assessment if anything changes, such as looking after younger children.
You can contact the Fire and Rescue Service for advice but we will not be able to come and do your fire risk assessment for you. You should not need to employ a specialist to do your fire risk assessment unless your house is very large and complex. Click here for information on completing fire risk assessments.
The Fire Kills campaign has produced a leaflet on Fire Safety for Parents and Child Carers.
Before you babysit for the first time at someone’s home, you should ensure that you have the following information:
- The quickest and safest way out of the property if a fire breaks out;
- The location of the door and window keys;
- Appropriate emergency contact numbers;
- The location of the nearest telephone outside of the house (payphone, trusted neighbour etc); and
- The full address of the property, including post code.
If you’re in a property with an open fire that has been lit, you should:
- Make sure there is a fireguard in place to protect from sparks and hot embers.
- Never leave a child alone in the room with a lit fire.
- Make sure that children don’t play too close to the fire.
If you have been given permission to smoke in the property, you should:
- Always make sure that cigarettes are completely out and cold before you empty the ashtray.
- Never leave matches or lighters where a child can reach them.
- Never leave ashtrays on upholstered furniture, as they could easily tip over.
- Never leave the kitchen when you have cooking on the stove.
- If you have to answer the door or telephone while cooking, turn the heat off.
- Make sure children can’t reach the pan handles.
If there’s a fire…
- Raise the alarm – don’t waste time investigating, get everyone up and out of the building.
- Call 999.
- Stay outside and wait for the Fire and Rescue Service.