Not everyone has the luxury of working from home in these weeks of restrictions. And that means kids old enough to stay alone or to mind younger siblings may be tasked to make lunches, prep dinners, and be responsible for safety.
While YouTube can teach a pre-teen to create a healthy, Insta-worthy dinner for work-weary family members, cooking safety is as important as on-hand ingredients and deliciousness.
NFPA recommends that parents or caregivers take time to review overall safety measures with kids who are at home on their own or with siblings, and ensure they understand how much responsibility they can handle.
A helpful lesson, Home Fire Safety – Teens Who Care for Themselves and Others in the Home,
provides core behaviours for families to cover:
- Have a home escape plan and an outside meeting place
- Know the sound of the smoke alarm is a signal to get out of the house
- Be able to unlock all doors and windows that could be used as emergency exits
- Use the stove or microwave only if you have been taught how
- Stay in the kitchen while cooking
- Keep anything that can burn away from the stove
- If cooking on the stove keep a lid nearby; if a pan catches fire, slide the lid over the pan to put the fire out and turn off the burner
- If younger children are in the home, keep them at least 3 feet (1 meter) away from the stove, oven or microwave
- Know how and when to get help; have access to a phone and know how to call 911
- Do not use matches or lighters; keep them away from young children.
- If you get burned while cooking, run the burn under cool water for 3 to 5 minutes. Call an adult to let them know what happened so they can determine if medical attention is needed.
Parents should emphasize that if there’s a fire, the responsible teen has one job: to get him/herself and other children out of the home and to safety, then call the fire department.
NFPA offers safety tip sheets on myriad topics that can guide folks who are working and learning from home. Visit www.nfpa.org/public-education. Follow us on Twitter at @nfpa, @Sparky_Fire_Dog and, in Canada, @LauraKingNFPA.