This project feels far and away the most important I’ve ever posted to this blog. Travis has had a fear/fascination with firefighters lately, as so many young children do. He adores their heroics and trucks, but is scared of alarms (especially because our old building had one too many false alerts go off). My tactic on all this has been to hush those fears (“What if the alarm goes off?” “It won’t, sweetie, it will stay quiet all night,”) instead of to address the reality that it very well could, and for a real reason.
A recent article in Parents magazine shamed me straight. Just because our old building had false alarms was no reason to go on thinking every alarm in Travis’s life will just be crying wolf. He didn’t need me to coo sweet reassurances – he needed to be empowered with knowledge!
We followed Parents’ suggestions, and it was a huge hit. First, draw a map of your house, including how to get out of each room – no need to be fancy with your drawing, just make sure your child understands what’s where on the graphic.
Now we needed to find two ways out of every room. This was a fun puzzle for Travis, more obvious in some places (a back patio door!)…
…and trickier in others – aha, a window!
The next step is to decide on a safe place where your family can rendezvous and wait for each other and the firefighters. Our building’s mail kiosk is a great landmark, even for a three year old. We added our “safe zone” to our drawing.
Finally, it was time for a drill! Travis loves the timer on my phone, so we set it for two minutes. Could he and I make it to the safe zone before it beeped?
We each started from our bedrooms…
…made it to the outside hallway…
…and celebrated our success!
Travis loved it all that he play-acted the drill in our living room for ages after we were done, and I caught him drawing his own escape “map.”
Now when he asks me, “What if the fire alarm goes off?” I still first reassure him that the chances are slim. But if it does go off, he is empowered with the answer to his own question. “If it does,” I asked him, “What would you do?”
“Meet out the doorway at the mail kiosk!”