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Burn Prevention information


Development of the Burn Prevention Curriculum

Fire and burns are a social and economic, as well as a behavioural issue. The development of injury prevention messages provides direction and increases awareness of the problem, not to mention the focus on changing peoples behaviours. Long term sustainable change can be achieved by building little successes, and by starting with those most at risk. Health care professionals such as professor Rode from the Red Cross Children's hospital have long been advocating for a school based burn prevention programme.

Through the Burn Foundation of Southern Africa, a coalition was formed from various organisations. Experts from the following organisations made up this coalition, Fire and Emergency Services of the City of Cape Town and Johannesburg, the Paraffin Safety Association, the Child Accident Prevention Foundation, the Medical Research Council, the Working on Fire programme and the Institute of Social and Health Sciences. We also engaged the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town and the Burn unit at the Baragwanath Hospital in SOWETO. After a two day workshop in 2003 it was clear that burns was a significant problem, and although not the most common (traffic related deaths where higher) it certainly was in the top three causes of early childhood injury related death. Burns was also an injury issue that had not been addressed effectively by any organisation in the past with regards to prevention.

Because burns had a higher prevalence in the very young, the participants identified the 3 to 10 year old group particularly in rural communities and informal settlements, as the priority. Acknowledging that there was no way that we could collectively reach this target audience, particularly in rural areas, we decided to develop a childhood burn injury prevention curriculum for pre-schools. Eight key burn prevention messages where developed at subsequent workshops. A curriculum developer was engaged to develop a comprehensive teachers guide for classroom use including flash cards and story books.

Outline of Curriculum

The approach was based on the most appropriate teaching methodology for this age group. The main body of the manual consists of 9 lesson plans. The first lesson is designed around an introduction to the concept of fire safety within the child's environment. The 8 lessons are based on the 8 key fire safety behaviours that were already identified. All the lesson plans and activities were designed in line with the curriculum and correctly positioned within OBE learning areas, objectives and outcomes.

Each lesson begins with an illustrated story about the fire safety behaviour being taught in that lesson.
Based on the fire safety behaviour and the story, 2 activity worksheets are included in each lesson. The worksheets can be duplicated by the teacher and handed out to the learners. As well as to teach and reinforce the fire safety behaviour, these activity worksheets were designed to develop essential early learning perceptual skills.

An additional 2 pages per lesson is devoted to further enrichment activities and suggestions that the teacher can do with his or her learners. As with the worksheets, these activities are based on developing a wide variety of early learning skills.

Also included in the manual is important information pertinent to the teacher:

  • Statistics and facts around fire and burn related injuries in South Africa
  • The aims and approaches of the manual
  • How to use the manual
  • A letter that can be sent to parents advising them about the Learn Not to Burn programme
  • An assessment questionnaire to determine the learners' knowledge about fire safety prior to and after completing the programme.

Included is a certificate that the teacher can copy and give to learners on completion of the programme, as well as a star chart that learners can complete as they progress through the programme.

Development Approach

Careful development of such a manual was necessary to make sure that it met all the stated objectives. In this regard the input and suggestions of a variety of experts in the field of early childhood education have been invaluable to ensure that the final product is educationally sound.

Furthermore, each lesson plan that was designed is currently being field tested in a number of classrooms. Feedback from the teachers and learners will then be immediately incorporated and applied to all the lessons prior to printing. This testing is being conducted in a demographically wide range of classrooms.


Various organisations including the Department of Education have already indicated their support for impelementation of this programme across all schools in South Africa. Various workshops to familiarise educators with the programme are planned and printing and distribution are being finalised. Currently a pilot of this programme is being conducted at various schools in order to finalise the programme prior to print.

Educational Activities, Worksheets, Programs, Workshops

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