Prevent the unthinkable: Fire incidents involving babies and toddlers

Parents anticipating the arrival of a new baby make preparations for a safe and comfortable home for their child. They look for cribs, infant seats and car seats that meet safety standards. Family and friends bring gifts of toys, blankets and color-coordinated accessories for the baby’s room.

In all of the planning for the big day, however, parents often overlook the threat of fire to their child’s life. Many are unaware of the higher incidence of fire death for children under age five, a group that is often helpless in such emergencies and dependent on caregivers to keep them safe. For this reason, parents and other caregivers of babies and toddlers need to pay special attention to fire safety.

Nationally, children under age five are twice as likely to die in a residential fire than the rest of the population. In fact, on average, a child under the age of five dies nearly every day from residential fire and toddlers ages three to four cause a large number of home fires by playing with lighters and matches. When a fire breaks out, babies and toddlers can’t escape without the help of a well-prepared parent or caregiver.

Babies and toddlers present a unique predicament when educating the public about home fire safety. Parents and parents-to-be need to view their homes from a child’s view: if your child can get to something, they will. Watch out for electric cords on the floor, lamps and cooking devices, pretty tablecloths that drape down to the floor with candles and ashtrays on top, and what is hidden beneath.

Childproof your home with electrical outlet covers and cabinet locking devices. Limit lighters and matches to one location in your home and know how many you have. Stay ahead of your child’s mobility: don’t assume that because they are crawling today they won’t be climbing tomorrow.
When buying clothing and toys be wary of items not labeled with manufacturer safety tags. Many times, manufacturers sell brands under different labels with cheaper and highly flammable materials. When space heaters and fire places are used, enforce a child-free zone of at least one arm’s reach or 36 inches away and always use tip-activated heaters and enclosed fireplaces.

Have a plan and practice it with your children. Let your children know that you place importance on fire safety. Don’t let a fire educate you. (Courtesy of KMC Fire and Emergency Services)