The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that 8 out of 10 fire deaths happen in the home, with the majority occurring late at night. Before you allow your child to sleep over at a friend’s house, discuss the importance of knowing how to escape from a fire wherever you are, including friends’ homes. 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; reverse the invitation, have the sleepover at your own home and make sure that your visitors know your home’s fire escape plan.
Before you make decisions about your child’s slumber parties and sleepovers, ask yourself the following questions:
- How well do you know the home?
- How well do you know the parent(s)?
- Are they mature, responsible and diligent?
- Will they supervise the children throughout the stay?
- Are they cautious with smoking materials, matches, lighters, and candles?
- Is the home clean?
- Does it appear to be structurally sound?
- Is the home in a safe area?
- If the home has security bars on doors and windows, do you know for certain that the bars have quick release devices inside, so your child can get out in an emergency?
- Is your child comfortable in the home and with all the occupants?
- Are you comfortable leaving your child in the home overnight?
Ask the parents of your child’s friend:
- Are there working smoke alarms on every level, inside and outside each sleeping area?
- Are the alarms interconnected?
- Do they have a well-rehearsed fire escape plan that includes two ways out and a meeting place outside?
- Where will your child be sleeping?
- Is there a smoke alarm in the room?
- Are there two escape routes from the room?
- Will the parents walk through their escape plan with your child?
- Do the parents prohibit bedroom candle use by children?
The answers you get to these questions can either uncover serious fire hazards or give you peace of mind during your child’s sleepover, but they should help you make the best decision.
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