What you need to know before you let your kids stay overnight
Emergencies can happen any time – and when your children sleep over at a friend or relative’s house, as a parent you need to know that the home they are staying in is safe. With an average of 3000 house fires each year in Victoria, it’s essential that every home has basic fire safety measures in place. Before you agree to your child sleeping over, you need to know that if a fire was to happen overnight, the parents in charge have a well-drilled escape plan to help get your kids out safely. So how can you be sure? Here we provide some tips and a handy checklist of questions to ask, that will give you peace of mind that your kids are staying in a safe place.
Is the Home Fire Safe?
When your child stays at a friend’s house, as a parent you want to be sure they’ll be happy, safe and get a good night’s sleep. The best way to put your mind at ease is to get to know the other parent, and the type of home environment they live in. With the majority of house fires happening overnight, you also need to be sure that the home and family are well-equipped to deal with a fire should it happen. Before you agree to a sleepover, talk to the other parents about fire safety in their home. The answers you get will either put your mind at ease, or alert you to potential dangers.
Fire Safety Essentials
The first thing you need to know is whether the home has adequate smoke alarms installed. Smoke alarms save lives - occupants of homes without working smoke alarms are four times more likely to die if a fire strikes through the night. Legislation requires that smoke alarms must be installed in all homes in every state of Australia, so check with the parent or guardian that they have working smoke alarms placed outside all of the bedrooms, and on every storey if the home is more than one level. If you’re not 100% confident that there’s smoke alarms in all the right places, don’t allow your child to stay there. Instead, invite your child’s friend to stay over at your place.
Teaching Kids to Be Fire Safe
Having a well-rehearsed fire escape plan at home, is the best way to teach your kids to be fire safe. Make sure you show your child what to do in a non-threatening way so they’ll stay calm when it counts. Practise your evacuation plan, so that it becomes second nature, which means your kids will be less likely to panic in an emergency. They will also adapt and cope better with evacuation plans in other places – including at sleepovers.
Before they stay overnight, talk to your kids about the importance of escaping a fire no matter where they are, and to follow the instructions of the adult in charge. Also give them the confidence to ask questions of their caregivers and report anything to them, or you, that doesn’t look, smell or feel right. And when you have other children stay at your house, be sure to explain your home evacuation plan to them, so they feel safe and confident too.
Before you say yes to any sleepovers, get to know the parents, by asking the questions on our fire safe sleepover checklist to find out if their home is safe. Knowing they have adequate, working smoke alarms and a well-drilled evacuation plan, gives you peace of mind - and most importantly, gives your kids the best chance of getting out safely if a fire strikes.
Over to you
Want to feel confident your kids are staying in a home that’s fire safe? Download our fire safe sleepover checklist here.
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