17 answers

Son Traumatized??

Hi Moms,

My son is 2 1/2. About 4 weeks ago, we were getting ready to leave the house when one of my fire alarms started making a chirping noise (which means the battery is low). However, this time, after the chirping, ALL of my fire alarms went off! They were all beaping loudly and then the recorded message of a lady saying "Fire Fire Fire" came on. I tried to turn off the system with the panel, but it wouldn't work. My son started SCREAMING and CRYING his head off! We ran downstairs and I finished getting his boots on to get out. Before I left, I very quickly ran around the house and tripled checked everything to make sure there was actually no fire. Then we both got in the car and got out. I called my hubby right away to tell him what the problem was. While I went to pick up my daughter from school, mu hubby came home and confirmed that it was a battery issue. But almost every day since this has happened, my son talks about it. "Fire was in my ears, my ears hurt, I was scared" and he tells my mom and dad and my brother and husband about it all the time too. As far as I know, my son has never even seen fire except the small flame on a birthday candle. Why did this affect him so much? Should I be concerned that he's going to have a fear of fire for the rest of his life? Should I take him to some class ot something? I keep telling him that there was no fire and everything is ok and it was just the batteries. But I don't think he understands. Please help!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Hello and Thank You to all the wonderful moms that took the time to respond! I truly appreciate it! I feel better now about the whole situation. I will continue to reassure my son that we were ok and safe and next time, I will try to control my reactions so that I don't scare him more! I'm also going to keep my eyes open for local area Fire Department open houses for the kids - I think both of my little ones might enjoy learning about what a fireman does and how to protect ourselves and our home. Thanks Moms!

Featured Answers

I have never experienced this myself but it sounds like he may need a trip to the fire station. Call ahead so they know you are coming and know the situation. They should have coloring books, fire hat, and other goodies he may enjoy and most boys love the firetrucks (though mine were intimidated by the size at that age.) Good luck. Also if you don't dwell on it, it will pass more quickly.

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He is sensitive to noises and he doesn't understand. That is why he keeps bringing it up, to process what happened and now your job is to get him to understand that his reaction is normal. Don't change the subject. Don't minimize it. Be his voice. "It was really loud wasn't it." "You really didn't like that, did you?" "I didn't like that noise either!" "The alarms didn't work very well, did they?" "Good thing that probably won't happen again." That he expressed he was scared is wonderful. I use the word startled with my daughter. It affected him so much because it was new and frankly, frightening. He'll be fine if you let him keep talking it through.


6 moms found this helpful

He's probably talking about the voice saying "Fire Fire Fire" and may not actually have any association between the alarm situation at your house and an actual fire. That could also be why telling him "there was no fire and everything is okay it was just the batteries" isn't comforting him, he's not talking about flames, he's talking about the WORD. You might try saying "Yeah, that was really loud. It hurt my ears, too. Daddy fixed the battery so it won't happen again. I'm so glad Daddy fixed that for us." and see how that goes.

Hope this helps.


6 moms found this helpful

He may be reacting more to the way you reacted than anything. And at this age, they become very sensitive to loud noises too. Can you show him one of the alarms and let him see where the batterioes go- maybe show him the batteries in one of his toys too so he can understand it better? Talk to him about the loud noise that he heard and tell him the purpose for it and why it is so loud. Sometimes my son just needs to understand something so he isn't afraid of it. Also, if you don't react to him when he starts talking about it like it was a scary situation, it may help to make him forget it. Just agree with him "yes, that was a really loud noise wasn't it?" and change the subject quickly before he has time to continue. Hope this helps!

3 moms found this helpful

I don't think it's the fire, I think it was the noise and commotion that went on. I have a friend who was at the pool with her kids when the lightning alarm went off and it scared her young son who was in the pool at the time. For several years after that he hated going to the pool and would spend most of his time just waiting for the alarm to go off, which it did on occasion. I think you could reassure him that it was just a mistake, the batteries weren't working right but now it's all fixed and won't happen again. He's probably on pins and needles that the alarm will go off again.

3 moms found this helpful

Well, it's not your fault because you were caught off guard, but the reason he was affected so much is because of how you reacted to it. You said "we ran ran downstairs and I finished getting his boots on.....I very quickly ran around the house and triple checked...both got in the car and got out....called hubby right away......" You really scared him. I think that as moms, we have to remember that if WE are calm, our kids will be also. If WE are freaking out, so will our kids. My son had a HORRIBLE bloody nose one day about a month ago, and it was really scaring him. I was scared too, wondered if I needed to take him to the ER actually, but the whole time, I was smiling and talking calmly to him, and telling him stories about when I'd had bloody noses. I explained to him that every single person gets bloody noses, and so they were no biggie. It lasted about 15 minutes, so we had plenty of time to talk. I was talking about playing a game later, basically just talking to him about whatever came to my mind. Now, if I had been freaking out with him on the outside, like I was on the inside, he would've been super freaked. There have been times when we've had tornado warnings too, and the first time we had one, my kids were being babysat by my in laws while I was visiting a friend in FL. My MIL was scared, and watching the news and saying they needed to be ready to get to cover. Well, next thing I know, my daughter calls me all freaked out. So, the next time we had a warning, I sat her on my lap and explained to her that although tornados are dangerous sometimes, in my whole life I had never seen one, so we can't worry about something that will probably never make it anywhere near us. Our kids feed off our energy. If you're grumpy, they will get grumpy too. If you're happy, they will be. If you're scared, they will be too.

2 moms found this helpful

It was the noise. It hurts adult ears, and the muscles that pull apart the bones in the ear (so loud noises are quieter) are WAAAAAAAAY more developed/strong in adults than they are in kids. Also, we all have some degree of hearing loss. Kids ears are sensitive, and the muscles in the inner ear are weak. So if the noise hurts your ears, assume it felt about 10x more painful to him.

Also, it was scary, and exciting (adrenalin), and he probably got to watch mommy run around like a lunatic for a few minutes (at least that's what I do when the alarm goes of... I'm halfway to a broom before I've actually moved)... all of which are extremely memorable. You'll probably be hearing about this for YEARS unless the alarm going off becomes more frequent. As soon as the experience stops being (quite literally) once in a lifetime, the story will cease. OTW, you're going to be listening to it for a long while.

1 mom found this helpful

take him to the fire station, have him learn about fire, practice the fire alarm going off - in other words teach him that although the noise is scary we need it to help us be safe and when you hear it there are things you need to do.

It GOOD that he is afraid of the sound, he needs to know what to do if he hears that sound again. So, talk to him about it, "you know that day the smoke detector went off, it was kinda scary. Well, I decided that we need to practice what to do when it sounds. That noise is to tell us to leave the house. that's why it's scary and loud. So, let's practice, ok? That way next time we will be ready and Mommy and you won't get as scared." Then practice. Let him push the button to set it off, have him figure out a place to be your safe meeting place.

1 mom found this helpful

Basically , from my anology when we were 2, 3 and 4 years of age, certain experiences were so eventful that we couldn't help but to remember them. This also falls into the cognative cateagory for learnig through hearing , viewing etc.. So I would'nt say traumatized, I would say "taught", a very important lesson, fire is, something to be afraid of. At his age every single big event is a great experience...........Oh yeah don't let the emphasist be put on the issue with only that "it was not a fire", but teach him everything there is to know for a child his age to do in the case of that type of emergency.


1 mom found this helpful

This happened to my son when he was about that age - he had a surprise fire drill at school and it scared him really badly. He didn't want to go back to school because he was so scared of it. It took a lot of talking about fire alarms and how they keep us safe and why they are a good thing (we probably talked about it every day for almost a month). Then we started to point out fire alarms every place we went so he could see how important they are. He calmed down and is no longer afraid of them, but every time one goes off he still covers his ears, turns to us, and says that these are for our safety so he isn't scared. He'll get over it, but be sure to spend some serious time talking about it with him so he knows it is ok to be scared, but that fire alarms are important and keep us safe. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I just saw this, but wanted to add my two cents. :-) My son was 2-1/2 when we had a similar situation. It started when I did something stupid and dangerous - I had a pot of water on the stove boiling with a pacifier in it so I could sanitize it. I completely forgot it was there, and went upstairs to give my son a bath. We were in the bathroom with the door closed, and there was a fan running and some other things that kept us from hearing anything outside the door. When he was finished and wrapped in a towel, I opened the bathroom door and our alarm system was going off (it has a fire alarm wired into it). The bathroom we were in was upstairs, so I had no idea what was going on downstairs, but I could see flashing lights outside. With the alarm blaring, I had to assess the situation (it was smoky), and when I determined it was OK, we went downstairs and outside. We had a firetruck in front of our house, and firemen were getting ready to enter. I told them what had happened, and then we waited on the front porch (my son was just wrapped in a towel, but luckily it was summer). The pot was empty of water, but the pacifier had fused to the pot and was putting off a lot of smoke. The firemen checked the cabinets over the stove with thermal imaging equipment (in case it had created a hot spot that would flare up later) and set up big fans to suck all the smoke out. Once the firemen determined it was OK, we were let back in so I could put clothes on my son and turn off the alarm (which had been blaring the whole time). I had to leave my son with one of the firemen so I could turn off the alarm. The fireman was very kind to my son and tried to joke with him, but he was in full gear and my son was very scared. For probably about 8 months afterward, my son talked about it, almost every day. Every night before bed, he would tell me he was scared of the smoke alarm. I always responded calmly, told him the firemen helped people and we needed help that day, and talked to him about fire safety. We also toured a fire station, and went to events where they had fire trucks on display. He eventually stopped talking about it - now he's four and rarely mentions it. He developed a great admiration for firemen though, and loves to see their trucks and dress up like one (he was a fireman for Halloween a few months after the incident). I was afraid I had scarred him for life, but he is a happy, healthy boy. We all make mistakes and hopefully learn from them, and I learned my lesson that day, too. Hope this helps!

the noise scared the hell out of him. he is 2 they love to talk about everything. he will get over it

I have never experienced this myself but it sounds like he may need a trip to the fire station. Call ahead so they know you are coming and know the situation. They should have coloring books, fire hat, and other goodies he may enjoy and most boys love the firetrucks (though mine were intimidated by the size at that age.) Good luck. Also if you don't dwell on it, it will pass more quickly.

Give him time and just keep reassuring him. My daughter had to ride in an ambulance with me when she was not quite 3 and was terrified of the sound of an ambulance siren for a long time afterwards, but eventually it faded.
It might help him to "prepare just in case" and do fun fire drills. Sometimes when you give them something active to do to combat the anxiety, it gives them some sense of control over the situation.
Good luck!

My son was about that age when we had a traumatic experience with lightning hitting our house and losing power etc., etc... He will remember this for quite a while -- but you need to reassure him of everything whenever he brings it up. Like, "yes honey but remember we SAFELY got out of the house and it was just a problem with the batteries that daddy fixed for us..." Pretty soon he will remember more of what you are telling him and less of the actual experience and then at some point he will stop bringing it up.

We had a similar incident in my daughter's very first week of preschool - roof work spilled over from the summer, and the workers tripped the alarm (during drills they get the preschoolers out before the pull the alarm). A lot of the kids were freaked out and EVERYWHERE we went, my daughter zeroed in on the fire alarms. Target, bank, anywhere. She found that red box, it was an obsession. She'd find them way up in the rafters at Meijer. This went on for months. I think you are doing good, reinforcing that it was the batteries and everyone's safe. It's probably a good thing, he will hopefully not play w/fire as he grows up. By the end of the school year that was way behind her, and she's now in her 2nd year there w/no problems. Good luck!

I just read this post, so sorry I am coming into it a little late. Most fire houses, welcome visitors at any time. Just call and see when a convenient time is. You can even mention that your son's story.Try to see if you can visit the fire house that services your neighborhood. I think that will really help!!

Yourson is scared because all he can focus on is the alarm yelling FIRE FIRE GET OUT. Imagine if you had been asleep and that happened you would be scared. 2 year olds know the word get out and I am sure you have taught him about hot and don't touch the candles on the cake because they burn. Eventually he will stop talking about it as long as you keep reassuring him that things were fine. But he should also know that if he hears that that he should get low and go. Fire safty should be taught to him now since this is on his mind. Use this as a teachable moment about fire safty. Take him to the fire house so he can see the fireman in full gear so he won't be scared of them because they can look pretty scary in their gear. Let him know that you have that system in the house to keep him and th rest of the family safe.

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