Weekly Indoor Tip #3: Talking to Kids About Wildfire

April 9th, 2020

Read the original newsletter here.

Because we won't be out in the community for the next several weeks, the Tahoe Network is sending out weekly tips on how to prepare for wildfire inside your home.

This Week's Tip: Talking to Kids About Wildfire

Preparing for wildfire is a crucial part of living at Lake Tahoe. Given the importance of planning for the whole family, children should not be left out of preparedness conversations. While your kids are home, you can use this time to talk about wildfire science and introduce fun, fire-related curriculum.

General Tips

  • Start the conversation with a video or activity to get your child's attention.
  • Ask your child what they already know about wildfire.
  • Be prepared to repeat information; wildfire can be difficult to understand

Fire Videos

Why is Fire Hot?

Join Jessi and Squeaks from SciShow Kids to learn how fires turn wood or fuel into useful heat and why our stoves, fireplaces and campfires are so hot.

The Science of Wildfires

In this SciShow Kids episode, learn the elements needed for fire, how wildfires start, and their ecological benefits.

Nat Geo Wildfires 101

Learn how how we can prevent destructive wildfires and how we manage wildfire to improve the health of forests.

Fire Related Activities

Smokey Bear Story Book

Includes a story book and printable stick puppets.

Smokey Bear Activity Book

A printable Smokey-Bear activity book.

FireWorks Educator's Curriculum

Interactive, hands-on lesson plans about wildfire.

Smokey's Wildfire Detectives

Printable wildfire prevention poster.

Talking Points: Pre-School and Kindergarten

What is Fire?

Fire happens when something gets very hot and burns, like a fireplace, a stove, or a campfire. There are good fires and bad fires, but all fire can be dangerous. We have to be very careful with it.

Some fires are good and help us cook, warm our houses, or light candles on a birthday cake. We typically can control these fires.

But fires can be bad if they are unplanned, out of control, or burn things we don't want them to burn like houses, farms, or parks.


A fire that burns through forests, grasslands, meadows, or other natural areas is called a wildfire. Wildfires can be started naturally or by people. They usually happen when it's hot and dry outside.

Not all wildfires are bad. Some forests and grassy areas need them to stay healthy. They can burn away dead plants and overgrown parts of the forest.

Talking Points: Elementary and Middle School

Fire Science

Fire needs three things to exist: fuel (wood, plants, or paper), heat to get it going (lightning, a cigarette, or a match) and oxygen. Because fire needs these elements, to put a fire out, you need to take one of them away.


A fire that burns through forests, grasslands, meadows, or other natural areas is called a wildfire. They usually happen during the summer and fall, when it is really hot and dry outside.

Wildfires can start naturally from lighting or by people who are careless— with cigarettes, campfires, or fireworks. Escaped campfires are the leading cause of wildfire ignitions at Lake Tahoe.

Prescribed Fire

Not all fires in the forest are bad. Land management agencies like the U.S. Forest Service, California State Parks, and local fire districts sometimes create fire in the forest on purpose. This is called prescribed fire, and it is done under very specific weather conditions and kept under control.

Prescribed fire helps keep the land healthy by burning away dead plants and preventing the forest from being too thick and overgrown.

Additional Resources

Smokey Para Niños

Un Dia en el Bosque Vídeo

Create a Family Evacuation Plan

Thank you for reading our weekly tip, we hope you feel more prepared for wildfire!