According to the latest figures from the Child Accident Prevention Trust, nearly 50 pre-school children die each year nationwide in house fires and nearly 1,000 are injured, many seriously. Only road accidents account for more deaths among young children.
For this reason alone it would seem particularly appropriate that the London Fire Brigade has targeted nursery schools for its new teaching programme Talk About Fire.
Under the sub-heading "Don't let a fire be your fault!" the pack aims to introduce young children to the dangers of fire in a manner that is interactive, informative and fun without being distressing. The programme has been specifically designed to meet objectives of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority.
It is hoped that teachers will be able to use the material to enable young children to recognise hazards and potentially harmful situations.
The pack is straightforward, without gimmicks. There are no videos or fancy models to press out of cardboard. It comprises 17 A3 laminated posters (14 in full colour), with teaching notes that come in an attractive A3 ringbinder that doubles as a display stand.
On the reverse of each poster is a set of notes which gives teachers suggestions for its use, together with a number of ideas for further activities. Alongside the notes are printed A4-size activity sheets that are intended to be photocopied for class use.
These detailed notes should enable the least specialist teacher or adult helper to make full use of the material.
Among the topics covered are aspects of home safety, such as the kitchen, hot things and cold things, and things not to touch. There is an activity designed to help children to take action if they are on their own and their clothes catch fire, and another which deals with the importance of knowing their address in order to summon help in case of an emergency.
Other activity sheets cover the Great Fire of London, protective clothing, lamps and candles, fireworks, outdoor safety, people who help us and the importance of fire drills in school.
There are a number of line drawings for children to cut out and colour to make their own pictures, or finger puppet plays. There are also colouring templates for four of the posters.
This is an impressive pack that appears to have been pitched at exactly the right level for nursery age children. The drawings are colourful and simple, without being babyish and there is even a Snakes and Ladders game which uses fire hoses instead of snakes.
There are plenty of opportunities for teachers or helpers to develop their own ideas with the material and much of it would be well suited for use with children at key stage 1.
Commercial sponsorship is enabling the London Fire Brigade to make this pack available to all nursery schools in London boroughs free. Schools outside this area can order the pack for Pounds 25, plus postage and packing. Details: the Fire Safety Education Group, 213 Queensborough House, Albert Embankment, London SE1 7SD