Prepare Kansas

Tag: Challenge Actitivies

Family fire drills: preparing young children

Fire safety training is one of those things that we hope to never need to use, but are sure glad we had it once we needed it. This post by Dr. Bradford Wiles, K-State Research and Extension early childhood development specialist, is designed to help families and those adults with young children in their care to prepare well in case of a fire. As with any emergency, there are simple, but crucial, things to do to successfully have yourself and your loved ones survive.

K-State Communications Photography: Prairie Fires &emdash;

Many of us grew up with various emergency drills as part of our school experience. However, the majority of fire deaths happen in the home. Preparing for a fire with young children might seem scary, but when it matters most, having a practiced plan, remaining calm, and being prepared are most valuable.

The first thing keep in mind with young children is that they will appreciate having practiced your fire escape procedures. For example, create a plan that helps to get children out of the building as quickly as possible, and practice it with some frequency, even as much as once a month. This helps children know what to do, and what to expect in the event of a fire. You also want to provide and practice an alternate escape route, should your primary escape route be impassable. You can make a game out of this practice with 3-5 year olds, making sure that they know the way out in case you tell them there is a fire. For slightly older children, you can emphasize how important it is to you that they are safe during an emergency.

The second thing adults can do to help children during an emergency such as a fire is to remain calm. Children, especially very young children, might not understand what is happening, but can tune into how adults are reacting more easily than they understand words. When adults panic, children will also panic, thus making adults’ ability to engage in quick decision-making and execution of the plan more difficult. Remember that adults are, at all times, a model for children’s behavior. If children see adults panicking, they will most likely panic as well. Besides, remaining calm is best regardless of the disaster, or the presence of young children.

Preparing young children and preventing fires

Preventing fires before they begin surpasses any response training. Here are a few things to keep in mind regarding children and fire:

  • Children are naturally curious about fire, and adults need to tell them fire is dangerous, not a toy, and all fires are to be outside.
  • Ensure that children cannot access any fire starting materials such as matches and lighters.
  • Use only lighters designed with child-resistant features.
  • Adults should not use fire as entertainment; not only is this unsafe, but it also sends the wrong message to children.
  • Teach children to tell an adult if they see unsupervised fire starting material, or if they see another child playing with fire.
  • If you suspect your child is intentionally setting fires or unusually fascinated with fire, get help. Your local fire department, school, or community counseling agency can connect you with experts who know how to teach children about fires in an appropriate way.

Challenge activities week 4

If you are having a hard time believing that we are in the 4th week of September and our 2015 Prepare Kansas online challenge, we feel the same way! Happily, we still have 10 days left in the month to finish up all of the challenge tasks.

Challenge activities for week 4, September 14-20 are to:

  • Plan and practice a family/workplace fire drill, and
  • Add items to your grab-and-go bags.

Our weather-related emergency focus this week is fire. Check out Kansas State Climatologist Mary Knapp’s Weather Wonders programs to learn more about fire weather, the dangers of lightning, and preventing fires in the home.

We’ve had questions about how you will report your progress. The Challenge Tracking Sheet is available for you to keep track of what you’ve accomplished during the month. Soon after the Challenge ends, you will receive an email with a link to a survey that we hope you will complete. The survey will ask you to tell us about your progress with the weekly tasks. As we’ve said, you have the entire month to complete the tasks. Even small actions can make a difference so don’t give up!

Thanks to those who have commented on the blog — we love to hear from you!


NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR)

Mark Trail champions NOAA weather radio
Mark Trail champions NOAA weather radio

Working with the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Alert System, NWR is an “All Hazards” radio network. Known as the “Voice of NOAA’s National Weather Service,” NWR is provided as a public service by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), part of the Department of Commerce.

It broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, directly from the nearest National Weather Service office.

Grab-and-go bags

One of the Prepare Kansas week 3 challenge tasks is to begin assembling grab-and-go bags for family members, including household pets. You may be wondering how these are different from the emergency supply kits you assembled in weeks 1 and 2.

NPM Digital Toolkit 2015 Flood_3
Image source: NPM Digital Toolkit 2015


The short answer is that they may contain some similar items. In our minds, there are differences though. A basic household or vehicle emergency  kit will be used whenever there is an emergency. A grab-and-go bag will likely only be used when you and members of your household need to evacuate quickly. Sometimes it might be hard to decide what the outcome of the emergency will be and you will want to grab both.

Items to include in grab-and-go bags for individual family members include those that are listed as additional items to consider on FEMA’s emergency supply list as well as the supplies for unique needs listed at

Individual and family needs vary and so will needs over time. Be sure to include items that will meet your current needs and update your grab-and-go bags at least once a year.