Fire Safety for Children
Keeping Children Safe
It is no longer a requirement of the EYFS to write risk assessments but many Ofsted inspectors look for fire safety risk assessments and a displayed emergency evacuation procedure which is shared with parents.
The EYFS states in requirement 3.55:
‘Providers must take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of children, staff and others on the premises in the case of fire or any other emergency, and must have an emergency evacuation procedure. Providers must have appropriate fire detection and control equipment (for example, fire alarms, smoke detectors, fire blankets and/or fire extinguishers) which is in working order. Fire exits must be clearly identifiable, and fire doors must be free of obstruction and easily opened from the inside.’
A risk assessment should identify possible risks and, once identified, risks should ideally be removed or, as a minimum, reduced to an acceptable level.
A fire safety risk assessment should cover:
- Fire / emergency escape practices - it is not a requirement of the EYFS to carry out fire practices – but it is important children know how to get outside in an emergency and regular fire practices are good practice.
- Keeping the house safe - for example, you might consider using a fire guard if you have a fireplace; you should check rooms in which children sleep for fire hazards.
- Procedures if children sleep upstairs - an appropriate evacuation strategy should be in place to ensure the safe escape of children and their carers within the home. Response times of fire appliances vary greatly around the UK depending on the topographical nature of regions and as such cannot be relied upon for evacuation of children.
- Smoke alarms and CO detectors - all premises must have some way of warning staff, children and visitors that there is a fire. Alarms and detectors should be in good working order and tested regularly. They will usually be located in circulation areas– but if the childminder offers overnight care or the house is 3 storeys high, further advice should be sought from the fire safety officer.
- Fire escapes - escape routes must be kept clear from trip hazards eg shoes by the door and doors must be easy to open in an emergency and keys must be accessible for the childminder.
- Furniture and furnishings - all furniture and furnishings should comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations.
- Smoking materials - childminders must not smoke when children are present and smoking materials must be kept out of sight and reach of children.
- Electrical safety - it is not a requirement to use socket covers: it is believed that socket covers are dangerous. Multiple adaptors are discouraged and cables should be out of sight and reach of the children.
- Location of the fire blanket and any other fire safety equipment - there should be a fire blanket located on the wall near (but not behind) the cooker – it is not to be used to put out a fire (according to the fire officer) but might be useful to wrap someone who is burning.
- Fire escape signs - childminders do not need to display fire evacuation signs or have further fire control equipment – as previously stated, the fire officer advises immediate exit of the house and ring 999 in an emergency.
In an emergency
The first priority is always the safe evacuation of the adult/s and children on the premises. Emergency ‘grab bags’ and attendance registers should only be collected if they are easily accessible on the route to the escape door. It is good practice to keep keys on the person and a mobile phone in a pocket.
Additional information about sleep and fire safety should be included for childminders who offer overnight care.
If you work with assistants or other staff you must train them as part of their induction training as clarified in requirement 3.20 –
’Induction training must include information about emergency evacuation procedures, safeguarding, child protection, the provider’s equality policy, and health and safety issues.’
Regular fire drills will ensure procedures are practiced and any problems are resolved.
There is no requirement to write up an emergency / fire safety log book but you might find one useful. There is a free one here from Childcare.co.uk (log in with a free account to download) – https://www.childcare.co.uk/free-childminder-paperwork.
Involve the children in fire safety activities
There are lots of ways you can help children to be more aware of the dangers of fire and teach them how to evacuate safely in case of emergency -
- Plan a monthly fire drill to include as many of the children as possible. Make some of the practices planned, where you sit and talk about safety before leaving the house and others totally unplanned, where you all have to get up and go outside;
- Involve the children when you check the smoke detector every week;
- Redesign your fire escape plan and get the children to help;
- Design a fire escape poster for the children, taking photos of them during a fire practice and using the photos for the poster.
- Learn the rhyme:
Matches, matches do not touch,
They can hurt you very much;
- Sing along to the Fireman Sam theme tune;
- Sing the song ‘I'm a Fire fighter’ and do the actions to the tune of I’m a Little Teapot
I'm a fire fighter, my name is John.
I put my boots and helmet on.
I hurry to the fire and give a shout!
With a burst of water,
The fire is out!
Teach children how to be safe with fire
- Encourage children to tell you if they find matches or lighters when you are on outings. Let them see you being careful about fire risks;
- Older children can take part in safe activities with fire such as lighting a bonfire or a candle while supervised by an adult;
- Hoax calls to the fire brigade put lives in danger. You must emphasise when you are talking about what number to call that it is wrong to call 999 for fun;
- When you see a programme on the TV or hear a news item about fire, use it as a learning opportunity;
- Tell children it is more important for them to be alive than for them to look silly in front of their friends by joining in activities with fire that they know are wrong.
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