Play With Fire, Run In Traffic

Children Seen Playing with Fire, Film at 11:00!
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Today we had fire class.  The instructional materials at our house went up in flames!

First, there was a bad setting on the computer printer.  This caused many sheets of ‘scrap’ paper, which was followed by many paper airplanes being thrown at each other.  Yes, pointy ones.  Yes, at each other.  Because boys.  Then it was time for shoes and jackets* and school was in.

Class started with a Google Image Search results page showing houses engulfed in flames, followed by a fire safety lecture.  A 10lbs fire bottle and a lit kerosene lamp, plus a bunch of not-great-fliers paper airplanes went outside.  #2 got a brief P.A.S.S. instruction and then we were off to the races.  I noted that it was a damp day, which was perfect for flaming paper airplane battles – then it started pouring, which is less perfect.  As it turned out, there couldn’t have been any battles anyway because the paper was fire-retardant (!) and the silly things just kept going out.  Fortunately, there is a roof over part of the patio, or this would have been a shorter class than I wanted.

With a heavy emphasis on taking turns, we had practice stamping out small fires that I set for them.  Because children need to do dangerous things, they took turns holding lit paper until they were uncomfortable with the zOMGFIREINMYHAND and tossed it out onto the wet concrete and stomped it out.  A few, we just let burn to see what would happen.  We experimented with different materials.

  • A cardboard sheet that used to have oily pizza on it burns great, and demonstrates that smoke is what burns when the fire catches in the smoke pouring out the unburned end of the cardboard.
  • Dryer filter lint smoulders a little cloud and demonstrates that smoke burns the eyes, and that a ‘dead’ fire can be brought back to life by blowing into it.
  • Small piles of burning stuff demonstrated that even wet stuff that could not be lit from the lamp would eventually dry and burn.

Then there was talk of going in, because the fire was finally dead.  I blew in it until it lit again, which shocked them, and we had a briefing on “sprinkle, stir, sprinkle, stir” to be sure a fire is out before leaving it.  Then, ’cause it was fun watching the ashes run down the patio, a bit of extra “sprinkle”.

Inside, there was a brainstorming session about what to do in various home-on-fire scenarios.  I explained some of the dangers of fire and how fast they can flash over.  They had already learned from somewhere to crawl under smoke.  They already knew just a tiny fire could hurt you and burn the house.  We discussed and demonstrated what to do in several ‘what if’ situations.  Actual shouting was involved.  I showed the little ones how the window lock in their room works.  Then we sat down and I gave them each an opportunity to say what they had learned, and there was more discussion.

Then video games.

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*I even put on a hat to keep the smell of smoke off my hair, because DW gets a headache from some smokey smells and I’m a considerate S.O.B.

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