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parent and child safety

Advice for parents and child carers

These pages have been put together for parents and anyone looking after children, including child-minders. The advice and tips provided here support our main Fire Safety in the Home leaflet.

You can read all our information below or you can download our information booklet and keep it somewhere handy for you to refer to again and again.

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, including fingers, into 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.

The kitchen

  • Don’t leave children unsupervised in the kitchen.
  • Avoid using the front of the hob when small children are around.
  • Make sure the saucepan handles don’t stick out to avoid them being knocked off.

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 reach of children.

What your children should know

  • You will want to make sure 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.

Tell them

  • 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 the neighbours to find one).
  • Call 999. Ask for the Fire Service and tell them your address (you might want to practise making this call with children and will need to make 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 ‘Help Fire!’
  • 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 child-minders or 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.

Have an escape plan and don’t obstruct exits


Information for child-minders

If you are a child-minder 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.

See more information on completing fire risk assessments


Fascination with fire

Some children can become dangerously obsessed with fires. If you know children who may be lighting fires deliberately you can do something about it.

Children can play with fire for reasons other than curiosity - for example, to get attention or because of peer pressure.

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service offers a confidential service where a specially trained fire advisor visits you and your child at home to give advice and education.

For more information see our Firesetters page or call 0800 0502 999.

Preventing radicalisation

An important part of keeping children safe is protecting them from those who may try to groom and exploit them. Grooming happens when someone takes advantage of another person by persuading them to think and do things that they would not otherwise do. People can be radicalised in many ways, including through the internet, social media and online gaming sites.

Safer Devon have produced a video and have a website where you can find out more and which offers support if you have concerns about an individual that you think is being radicalised.

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