People who help us

Firefighters come to the rescue in our story and quickly douse the woodland fire but who told them about the fire? Our emergency services need our help, so that they can help us.

Sometimes it can be scary for children to think about emergency situations. Sometimes they can be excited at the prospect. Whichever camp they fit in, making sure they stay calm and know what action they should take might mean they can make a big difference to a bad situation. Discuss how Rabbit reacted when he realised his friends were in danger from the flames. He was frightened but stayed calm and called (drummed) for help. It wasn’t long before Woodpecker appeared and joined in with the call for the animals to wake up and escape the forest. Again, Rabbit remained calm as he led the animals out of the wood.

How do the children think that the firefighters found out about the fire? Explain that for emergency services to help us, we have to help them by telling them about emergencies as soon as they happen. In the story, someone in a nearby house probably made the 999 call. Say that it’s important that children have the confidence to make the call if they ever have to.

When to make that call

All children should learn their address and postcode off by heart and also what to do in an emergency – see 'If you need to call 999' section. Explain to the children that they must only ever use the emergency 999 services number for real emergencies. Emergencies are:

  • if someone is seriously ill or hurt
  • if a crime is happening
  • if there is a fire
  • if there is any other serious danger to life or property.

It’s a good idea to role play making an emergency call and that children should understand the dangers of making hoax calls. Discuss why it is dangerous for people to make hoax calls and explain that is a criminal offence to do so. Explain that all calls to 999 are voice recorded and it is very easy for the telephone operator to trace the telephone that has been used for the call from and, in turn, the address that they have called from. This makes it fairly easy to detect people who waste the time of the emergency services.

Preventing fires

The fire in the A Thumping Great Rabbit was started by a lightning strike but there are other ways woodland or forest fires might start that can easily be prevented. Can the children suggest some? These might include:

  • discarded cigarette ends
  • empty bottles or broken glass acting as a magnifying glass and magnifying the heat and light so that a fire eventually starts
  • chinese lanterns
  • camping fires not being extinguished correctly.

Explain that sometimes fires can start even when you are being careful. Can the children design a poster to raise awareness of woodland fires and show how these can be prevented?

If you need to call 999

  • First, shout to see if there’s an adult around who can help you.
  • Take a deep breath and stay as calm as you can.
  • Dial 999.
  • Tell the operator that there is an emergency and say what has happened.
  • Follow the operator’s instructions.
  • Stay on the line until the operator says you can put the phone down.

Check out some fire safety games from the London Fire Brigade

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