Captain Koala here. I’m one of the CFA’s fire-safety supremos. CFA is short for the Country Fire Authority. You might have heard about us in the news this summer.
We’re firefighters who fight bushfires and house fires right here in Victoria.
But one of my jobs is to make sure those fires don’t start. Every day I put on my big red, firefighting hat, and my yellow uniform, and talk to kids like you about fire-safety.
We need to look after the ones we love around us. I’ve put together a list you can use to become a fire-safe koala like me and help protect your own family.
First, make a fire plan with your family.
• A fire plan helps all of your family know what to do if there is a fire. Get an adult or older sibling to help you fill out a fire plan using this template.
• Plan to meet at a safe place such as your letterbox if there is a fire. And practice makes perfect! Get all your family to practice the plan. And remember, get down low, and go, go, go.
Don’t play with fire
• Matches, lighters, fireworks and open fires are dangerous. They are not fun to play with and can really hurt you or your friends. Sadly I still see some kids wind up in hospital because they’ve been a bit silly and played with fire. Lighting fires can also lead to bushfires, which hurt our native bush, plants and animals like myself. Trust me, it’s best to leave lighting fires to adults who know what they’re doing.
Make sure your smoke alarms are working
• A grown up might need to help with this one. Get them to show you where the smoke alarms are in your house. Don’t ever stand on a chair or ladder to test your smoke alarms. There is a button you can press with a broomstick or mop. The smoke alarm will beep at you if it is working properly. If not, it’s time for new batteries or a new smoke alarm.
• Why not get mum or dad to help you make a smoke alarm testing stick? All it takes is a length of dowel, some coloured ribbons and some kid-safe paint to decorate it.
Everybody on their devices
• These days most families have multiple devices going at once. This means multiple cords to charge them all. There shouldn’t be overloaded power-boards or loose cables in your home – these are a fire risk. And don’t charge any electronics on your bed!
Cooking with koalas
• I’m sure you love cooking and eating just as much as I do! Ask an adult to help you before cooking in your kitchen, and make sure you don’t leave stoves, grills, toasters and kettles on after you’ve used them.
Goodnight! Sleep tight!
• Every night I go round and check that my family’s heaters and electric blankets are switched off, before we go to bed. Make this a part of your family’s routine. I do pyjamas, toilet, teeth, switch off powerpoints – then bed.
By following these tips, you will develop fire-safety skills of your own. I’d love to hear from you about how you’ve become a fire-safety koala. I’d really love to see all of you practicing your fire plans with your family. You can ask mum and dad to send me your videos, photos and letters by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting us on Facebook.
In the meantime – see y’a round like a koala!
Captain Koala’s note to parents, guardians and teachers: If you are interested in teaching kids about fire safety, my CFA colleagues have some excellent resources on their website. Visit https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/kids-schools
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.