Adults all heard the scream. The kids were in the kitchen making their sandwiches for the next day, so initially we thought the kids were having a mayonnaise moment, but we quickly heard the terror.
Somehow, our nine year old backed up into the flame on the stove. Her hair is, or was, quite long and was loose, so the flame caught easily and melted the tips and part of the back of her hair.
Dad got there first and held her close. He quashed the burning hair and calmed the child. The flames were out quickly, but the calming took a while. Her big sister was spooked too; it all happened so fast.
The next day I asked her how this happened. She explained that they had been talking and walking around, as they made their lunches, and she had backed up into the fire on the stove.
I also asked her if she knew what to do; she promptly replied: stop, drop to the floor, roll on the ground to put out the flame. She scored perfect marks on her oral exam but zero on her practicum. Dad was the one to stop the burning hair.
Maybe if she had been alone, knowing that she didn’t have anyone to a look after her, she would have rolled. Or maybe if an adult had not been there so quickly, with a few more seconds, she would have rolled. Maybe her sister would have reminded her, or patted out the flames herself. We will never know, but I do know that there are some instincts which need to be practiced in order to be useful. Our family has talked a lot about fire procedure, but we have not practiced.
Our kids are responsible and comfortable around the kitchen, and they know how to manage all sources of heat. We will be taking their knowledge to the next level shortly: what to do when dangerous things happen.
She looks just as lovely with her medium length hair, and we have all learned some lessons. Drills are only useful if you practice them.
Here are a couple of useful sites for fire safety. It’s never too early.
Toronto’s Fire Department has a great list of kitchen safety tips here:
It’s worth noting the BBQ safety tips too: