Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 3: Health Promotion and Protection

3.4 Health Protection in Child Care

3.4.3 Emergency Procedures Response to Fire and Burns

Content in the STANDARD was modified on 02/27/2020.

Caregivers/teachers should participate in fire drills, at least annually, to practice and carry out the fire emergency action plan in the event of an actual fire. Staff should be trained that the first priority is to remove the children from the facility safely and quickly. Putting out the fire is secondary to the safe exit of children and staff.


Fire Emergency Action Plan

Early care and education programs should educate and train staff on the use of a fire extinguisher and develop a fire emergency action plan for responding in the event of a fire in or near the facility. Fire extinguishers are one component of a fire emergency action plan, but the primary outcome is a safe escape.1 The fire emergency action plan and staff training should include the following action items, and staff should work together to evacuate children to safety and extinguish the fire, if possible. All efforts in the fire emergency action plan can take place simultaneously2.


Plan Action Items  
Determine what is a fire emergency. Declare the emergency, alert staff, pull fire alarm (if available), and call 9-1-1. When calling 9-1-1 remember3
  • If you do call 9-1-1, even by mistake, do not hang up the phone.
  • Do your best to stay calm and answer all questions.
  • Know the location of the emergency.
Identify a safe evacuation plan for all children and staff. Evacuate children and staff.
  • Children who can walk hold walking rope and follow teacher to evacuation site.
  • Infants/toddlers and children with special health care needs are evacuated in evacuation cribs.


Take first aid kit and provide first aid and medications as needed. 
Take a roster of all children present, and calm children. Scan and count to make sure all children are accounted for. 
Have contact information and list of approved family/guardians authorized for pickup.

Select appropriate fire extinguisher. Discharge the extinguisher within its effective range using the PASS technique (pull, aim, squeeze, and sweep). Most fire extinguishers operate using this technique.1
  • Pull the pin; this will break the seal.
  • Aim low, pointing the fire extinguisher nozzle at the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the handle to release the extinguisher agent.
  • Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire until it appears to be out.
Identify communication plan.

Communicate necessary information to parents/guardians.

Communicate all clear to staff, children, and parents/guardians.


Staff should be taught and demonstrate the ability to recognize a fire too large to be fought with a portable fire extinguisher. Early care and education staff should remember to back away from an extinguished fire should it reignite and not reenter the building unless approved by the fire department.


Remembering and implementing all action items in the fire emergency action plan can be challenging; following the RACE acronym can help.

  • Rescue: Evacuate all children, staff, and visitors.
  • Alarm: Fire alarm should be pulled and local emergency services notified.
  • Contain: Close doors and windows to contain the fire.
  • Extinguish: Determine the location, size, and nature of the fire and attempt to extinguish it.

Children who are developmentally able should be instructed to stop, drop, and roll when garments catch fire.4

  • Stop! Do not run.
  • Drop! Drop to the ground right where you are.
  • Roll! Roll repeatedly to put out the flames. Cover your face with your hands.

Children should be instructed to crawl on the floor under the smoke if necessary when they evacuate the building. This instruction is part of ongoing health and safety education and fire drills/exercise.

Should a child or staff member experience a burn, apply the cool/call method.

  • Cool the burned area with water.
  • Call for help.

Cool water should be applied to burns immediately. Ice should not be applied to skin, because of the potential for frostbite. The injury should be covered with a loose bandage or clean, dry cloth. Medical assessment/care should be immediate.


Training all staff members and developing a fire emergency action plan can increase preparedness and help staff better understand what to do in the event of a fire. Caregivers/teachers that are trained and who participate in annual fire drills are better equipped to carry out the fire emergency action plan in the event of an actual fire.4


Injuries from inhaled debris, smoke, and toxins and excessive exposure to carbon monoxide, when paired with increased air temperatures during a fire, can post a risk to health; especially in young children.5

Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Use of Fire Extinguishers Compliance with Fire Prevention Code Portable Fire Extinguishers Disaster Planning, Training, and Communication
  1. National Fire Protection Association. Fire extinguishers one element of fire response plan for students on college campuses. Updated April 21, 2016. Accessed August 21, 2019

  2. National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness, US Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Office of Head Start. Emergency Preparedness Manual for Early Childhood Programs. Accessed December 20, 2018

  3. National Emergency Number Association. 9-1-1 tips & guidelines. Accessed August 21, 2019

  4. American Academy of Pediatrics. Fire safety. website. Updated February 29, 2012. Accessed August 21, 2019

  5. Sheridan RL. Fire-related inhalation injury. N Engl J Med. 2016;375(19):1905


Content in the STANDARD was modified on 02/27/2020.