Matches and Lighters
Did you know fires are the number-one cause of death at home for children under six? A child under the age of 15 starts more than one of eight fatal structure fires. Children are at a high risk for burn injuries due to their own experimentation with matches and lighters. The main reason most children play with fire is curiosity. Sometimes they act out their anger and frustration at home or school, by setting fires. Older children may set fires due to peer pressure or part of gang activities.
Education is the key in preventing curiosity fire setting. Young children should be taught not to handle matches and lighters and to "tell an adult" when they find them. Never try to scare children away from fire. Teach children that matches and lighters are tools and not toys, and they are for grown-ups only. Keep all matches and lighters out of reach and out of sight of children. Fire setting for reasons other than curiosity may require other modes of intervention, such as law enforcement or social services.
Key Practices from the National Fire Protection Agency:
- Talk openly about all aspects of fire safety with children, beginning at a young age.
- Teach older children to use fire responsibly, and to bring found matches or lighters to an adult.
- Keep matches and lighters up high out of children's sight and reach - preferably in a locked cabinet
- Store flammable liquids properly and away from children.
- Keep your property clear of convenient fuels for arsonists, such as brush and rubbish.
- Never leave children alone with an open flame.
- If you suspect your child is overly curious about fire or setting fires, get help immediately.