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Save Lives with this Simple Fire Safety Experiment

Teach kids a valuable lesson that could save lives with this simple fire safety experiment.

This simple experiment is a great visual representation of the relationship between fire and oxygen

Did you know that this week is Fire Safety / Prevention Week? When Mike and I were first married, the couple across the hall from us lost everything in their apartment when they threw water on what should have been a small grease fire. Thankfully they were okay, and the fire did not spread to the rest of the building, although their apartment had to be completely gutted. This fire safety experiment is a great illustration of why you want to smother a grease fire (with the pan’s lid or baking soda or a fire extinguisher). It also explains why you avoid opening windows in burning buildings. Children are born curious, and this curiosity makes them excellent scientists! This simple, visual fire safety experiment for kids is a great way to get children thinking about the relationship between fire and oxygen.

This candle experiment is a simple way to show kids that fire needs oxygen.

Save Lives with this Simple Fire Safety Experiment

The experiment is very simple. Light two candles, and cover one with a large jar, and the second with a smaller jar. Make sure that you cover the candles smoothly, since sudden movements may make the flame go out before the experiment begins!
I had actually never tried this experiment before pulling it out for my kids, and I was surprised by how quickly both candles went out – but there is no question that the smaller jar (with less oxygen) extinguishes more quickly.

More Fire Safety Tips for Families

 It’s hard to think straight in an emergency, and every bit of practice helps! My kids have been practicing Stop, Drop, and Roll in school (and after school), and we have a fire safety plan for our house. We will be going over it again this week. Children need to know where to go and what to do when there is a fire. Make sure your children know where the fire extinguisher is, and how to use it! Remember that couple I introduced at the beginning of the post? The floor’s fire extinguisher was right outside their door, but they had forgotten about it in their panic. The entire building’s alarm had gone off. They were standing at the door of their burning apartment, frozen. They wouldn’t move. I handed them the fire extinguisher as soon as I realized what was happening. Within seconds the fire was out. Had they thought to use it earlier, they may have been able to save their belongings, and their apartment. Of course, it was much easier for me to think clearly, since it wasn’t my apartment that was on fire. It is very hard to make good decisions when in the middle of a crisis. This is why it is so important to plan ahead!
What are your top fire safety tips?

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

24 thoughts on “Save Lives with this Simple Fire Safety Experiment”

  1. This is a great way to teach children about fire and oxygen. Thanks for bringing fire safety into the blogosphere’s discussion. Thanks for this post!

  2. Natalie PlanetSmartyPants

    Great experiment! I did that once too as a teenager – stuck a burning oil in a pan under water. It was… umm… spectacular. It was not easy to explain to my parents why the ceiling in the bathroom is covered by black burns. At least I didn’t burn the apartment!

  3. This is so true! One of our family stories is that my grandmother put a blanket over her sister who was on fire, and saved her life. The story is good, but this is proof of how that works. Thanks much!

  4. almostunschoolers

    Home Depot had a fire prevention workshop this weekend, and the kids got to put out fire with a fire extinguisher. I was surprised how quickly the extinguishers ran out of chemical. Tying your experiment to fire safety week, was an excellent idea!

  5. Recently, we’ve been doing a lot of hands-on science experiments. We’re definitely going to tie in your fire experiment in this week.

    Some of the best advice I got was from my sister. She has the fire department visit her preschool every year. And one thing the firemen do is put on all of their gear in front of the children and then let the children touch all of it with them inside. The firemen explained that young children often hide from firefighters trying to rescue them because they look like a scary monster. I had never thought of that. Now my children are familiar with firefighters in all of their rescue gear! Here is a link if you want to show your children some photos of the firefighters putting on their rescue gear. http://waddleeahchaa.com/2011/10/06/fire-safety-tips-for-children/

  6. I love that this activity involves a bit of fire! It’s a great idea to get children to start thinking about fire and fire safety from a young age, rather than just avoiding the topic altogether. This is a great experiment to tie in with some of the primary school science classes!

  7. That is a nice simple experiment! This post prompted us to have a family discussion last night about fire safety so thanks!

  8. So interesting! I’d never heard of that, so good to know. We have a fire extinguisher too, so good to know to reach for that first before water if possible!

  9. Elisa | blissfulE

    We have told our kids where to go if our house caught fire and they needed to escape. I have also made sure they know that we can replace stuff, but not people – in other words, that they should escape without stopping for things, but they should watch out for and help their siblings if at all possible.

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