Kids Would Stay in Burning Buildings, Survey Shows

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, In The News, Health & Safety: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Big Kids

fire truck

Does your child know what to do in a fire? Credit: wili_hybrid, Flickr

OK, class, what is the first thing you do if there's a fire?

Most children don't know that when there's a fire, the first order of business is to get out of the building.

Some 53 percent of kids said they would do something other than leave the vicinity, according to a survey of children and parents released this week by Underwriters Laboratories.

That troubling news was particularly startling to John Drengenberg, the consumer safety director at UL who helped craft the survey of 300 children ages 5 to 10. The majority of children said they would call 911 or find an adult or teacher. A few said they would hide or just flat-out didn't know what to do.

On the plus said, Drengenberg said, the vast majority of parents, 92 percent, said they talk to their children about how to respond to fires and other emergencies, while 89 percent of the children said they listen. Or do they?

If parents and children are talking -- and more than half the kids don't realize that getting out of a burning building is job number one -- Drengenberg suspects there might be a communication breakdown.

"The information may not be correct on the parents' end," he said in an exclusive interview with ParentDish. "The end result is definitely disturbing."

Children are often told about the importance of calling 911 in emergencies, Drengenberg said. Maybe they hear that too much.

"They might be mixing different messages," he theorizes. "I don't what's going on in their little minds."

One thing is clear from the survey, he said. "We need more education when it comes to emergency situations."

The School Safety Survey was conducted by by Kelton Research on behalf of UL between April 16 and 23, 2009. Questions were asked by phone calls, e-mails and online surveys.

The majority of parents surveyed, 74 percent, said they've told their children that getting out is the first priority in a fire.

The phrase to use is "get low and go," said Drengenberg -- meaning people should get low to the ground while escaping a fire to avoid smoke inhalation.

Drengenberg said schools still conduct fire drills, but it has fallen out of vogue with businesses. More offices should conduct fire drills, he said. And so should families -- at least twice a year.

The main message parents and kids should take away from the survey is a simple one, he said. "Your first job is to get out of the house."

Would your kids know what do to in case of fire?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.