Put safety first at sleepovers

Both of my daughters had a sleepover last year at our friend’s house. Their children had asked our children and of course, like most parents, we said yes.
My wife and I knew the parents. They also are our friends, and are responsible people. The home was equipped with correctly located, installed, and maintained working smoke alarms on each level of the home and inside each bedroom.
The home also had a carbon monoxide alarm correctly installed. The home escape plan was covered with all the children.
Is your child safe staying overnight at a friend’s home? Before you permit your child to sleep over with a friend, talk to the child’s parents. Depending on what you learn, it either can uncover serious fire and life safety dangers or give you peace of mind.
The majority of fire deaths in North American take place in the home, where we feel safe and secure. Also, the majority of home fire deaths occur late at night in homes without working smoke alarms!
If you don’t know for certain that the friend’s home is equipped with working smoke alarms, and that the sleepover will be supervised by an adult, don’t take the risk!
You may want to consider reversing the invitation and have the sleepover at your own home.
I have always promoted—and believed in—teaching children about the importance of fire escape planning in a positive, non-threatening style. Children need to be well-versed in home fire escape planning and drills in your home.
Before you permit a sleepover at a friend’s, discuss the importance of knowing how to escape from a fire—regardless what home the child is in.
Parents and caregivers, as well as children, should feel empowered to ask friends and their parents/caregivers about fire safety in their home.
Ask a few simple questions like whether the home is equipped with working smoke alarms, are there two ways out of the sleeping area, and is the sleepover to be supervised by an adult.
Also, urge children to report to you anything that makes them feel unsafe.
And when it’s your turn to have other children stay overnight in your home, make sure they know what your home’s fire escape plan is!
In my next column, I’ll share a sleepover checklist that is available to everyone.
Remember, if you never need what you learn about personal safety, you have lost nothing. But if you never learn what you need, you may lose everything . . . your family and your life!
Safety—it starts with you!
Tyler J. Moffitt served with the OPP, as well as 15 years as a firefighter and emergency responder.

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