What will your child do if they are stuck in a vehicle or building, scared and confused? Will they hide from the ‘stranger danger’ approaching them, or reach for the safe arms of the firefighter coming to help them?
We love our children and would hate to think of tragedy occurring in our own lives, but it would be foolish of us to think we are invincible to harm. When an emergency occurs our children may need the assistance of a police officer, firefighter or paramedic. Teaching our children about stranger danger is of upmost importance. Kidnapping is no joke. However, they need to know that their are people who are out their who they can trust.
I highly suggest making a call to your local fire department and ask them if they offer children meet and greets. Some stations have special days or programs that you can attend. Others will open their doors to you same day. Either way, you want to be sure you visit them during business hours and when they are able to take the time to show you around and talk to you. Always call first.
We have gone a few times to the fire station in our small country town. They are always friendly and love when kids visit. One day I took just my son, age 2, when my daughter was in preschool. He was able to play with the hose, with the help of the fire lieutenant on staff that day. He is obsessed with water, so getting to help hold the super high pressure hose was what little boys dreams are made of. Not all stations will allow you to help with the fire hose, but if yours does, you are truly in for a treat.
When you visit you can point out to your child that there are different types of vehicles there. Our station has basic fire trucks, but also ones that carry water in the truck. Living in the country we don’t have fire hydrants by my house (being the city this was mind blowing to me). When a fire occurs the trucks are pre-loaded with water and is used to control and dissipate the fire.
They will probably let your child sit in the cab of one of the trucks. This gives them the illusion of driving this massive vehicle. Getting to sit in your parents car when its off and play with the buttons is super fun for toddlers, just imagine their delight when getting to do that to a huge safety vehicle. They have buttons galore! Some fire fighters may even turn on the sirens and different alarms the truck can make. This can be a cause of excitement or fear, so be close to your child in the case of them getting too startled by the noise. You know your child best.
My favorite thing that I learned when at the station this past week was a new feature in our ambulance. Hidden behind the seat back in one of the passenger seats, is a 5 point harness for children! I was able to get my 3 year old in for a quick photo, but my 2 year old started to melt down, so we didn’t get her strapped in tightly like we would if we were going to actually ride the ambulance. She say the belt once the fire fighter pointed it out and she exclaimed, “a seat for kids!” Even my 3 year old knows she belongs in a 5-point harness. I think this feature is so great. If I was to need to be rushed the hospital and my kids would obviously not be left alone, they can strap them in the ambulance safety for transportation. Or if the child didn’t need to be on a gurney per-say, but needed to be transported, now they can be safely buckled in for their journey.
They may let your kits try on their uniforms or try them on for the kids. Seeing that its just an outfit and nothing to be scared of. We don’t ever see people wearing a suit like a fireman in our daily lives. They can look intimidating and even scary to a child. By explaining the functions of the uniform and why they wear them can make your child more aware. Being aware and knowledgeable lessens fear and builds confidence.
Each time my kids meet a fire fighter they build trust in them. They see that their mom is happy to see them. If you are nervous and timid around when you meet the fire fighters, that shows your kids to be timid and nervous. Try to shake hands with them, laugh and smile a lot. Show your kids that you like to be with and around fire fighters. They trust who you trust.