Important fire safety tips for the back-to-school transition


(BPT) - After months of working remotely, some parents are preparing to return to the workplace. This transition occurs as students head back to school, so some children may find themselves home unsupervised for the first time before or after school, or for longer times. According to a new survey, 46% of parents with children aged 10-17 plan to have their children stay home alone before or after school. In the survey, commissioned by Kidde and conducted online by The Harris Poll, 33% of those parents say it will be their child’s first time staying home alone. As schools welcome back students, it’s an ideal time for parents to review fire and carbon monoxide (CO) safety education with their families.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fires started by children playing accounted for an average of 49,300 fires with 80 deaths, 860 injuries and $235 million in property damage per year between 2007-2011. Sadly, children under 15 accounted for 12% of the home fire fatalities and 10% of the injuries in 2018.

While many fires may result from curious children playing, flames can be sparked by cooking appliances, candles, fireworks or other equipment, according to the NFPA. If a fire starts, it is important to teach children how to react and get help — quickly. While Kidde’s recent survey showed that 61% of parents with children ages 10-17 have discussed fire safety with their children, the American Red Cross reports 26% of families have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.

“Imagine how scary it might be for a child home alone when a fire starts or a CO alarm goes off,” said Sharon Cooksey, fire safety educator for Kidde. “The majority of adults know what to do, but children may not know to get outside and stay outside. It’s never too early to teach children how to appropriately and confidently respond to a fire.”

Here are easy-to-follow tips to help keep your family safe:

Install fire and CO safety devices. Homes should have one smoke alarm in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including basements. Install CO alarms outside each sleeping area, on every level of the home and other locations as required. Keep one general purpose fire extinguisher, such as 2-A:10-B:C rated, on every floor and in critical areas like the kitchen, garage and utility rooms.

Do a match and lighter roundup. Minimize fire risk by keeping matches and lighters out of reach. Teach children to stay away from fire sources like lit candles and stoves.

Skip snacks that require cooking. Prep food and after-school meals that do not require the use of appliances like toasters or stovetops.

Fire escape planning. Kids should know how to escape the home in case of an emergency. When escape planning, remember the "twos":

  • Always know 2 ways out of every room
  • Practice 2 times per year
  • Practice 2 times of day — daytime and nighttime

Get outside, stay outside. Remind children: If the smoke or CO alarm sounds, they need to get outside and stay outside. Children, especially those playing with “off-limits” appliances, may fear parents’ reactions, and may hide under beds or in closets, believing that will protect them from fires. Teach children getting outside is their top priority.

Keep emergency numbers close. Post and familiarize your child with emergency numbers like 911 and your local fire department .

Smoke alarm maintenance. In addition to testing alarms weekly, schedule cleaning and maintenance of every smoke alarm according to manufacturer instructions. Smoke alarms must be replaced at least every 10 years, so check installation dates.

CO alarm maintenance. CO alarms must be replaced every 7-10 years. Guidance varies depending on the model and manufacturer, and alarms may not detect the presence of CO after they reach maximum age. Newer model CO alarms may feature a “replacement signal” or end-of-life notification, two beeps every 30-60 seconds. Know how to identify alarm sounds, test alarms weekly, replace batteries where applicable and check alarms’ age to ensure equipment is working properly. See your manufacturer’s user guide and instructions.

For more fire safety tips for the whole family, visit

Survey Method:

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of Kidde from July 27-29, 2021 among 2,076 adults, of whom 341 are parents of children ages 10-17. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Sharon Cooksey at