Child Fire Play Responsible for 4 deaths, 12 injuries, and $5 Million in Property Loss
NASHVILLE –The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office is urging parents to teach children the importance of fire safety at an early age to prevent the devastation that can result from youth firesetting.
“If your child expresses curiosity about fire or has been playing with fire, calmly but firmly explain that matches and lighters are tools for adults only,” State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak said. “Children need to understand that fire is fast, difficult to control, and can hurt as soon as it touches you.”
In Tennessee, fires caused by children have had tragic consequences. From 2011-2015, 217 structure fires in Tennessee have resulted from children playing with fire. These fires caused 4 deaths, 12 civilian injuries, and $5,093,706 in property loss.
In 2008, Tennessee banned the sale of novelty lighters in the state. These lighters usually resemble cartoon characters, toys, guns, watches, musical instruments, and animals, and often include entertaining audio and visual effects. They pose a serious fire hazard, especially in the hands of children who mistake them for toys. Toy-like or novelty lighters have been responsible for injuries, deaths, and accidents across the nation.
Utilize the following tips to encourage fire safety in your home:
• Supervise young children closely. Do not leave them alone, even for short periods of time. Many fires happen when young children are left alone and have access to matches and lighters. Parents must have clear rules and consequences about fire misuse.
• Keep matches and lighters in a locked drawer or cabinet, high out of the reach children.
• Purchase and use only child-resistant lighters. Even child-resistant lighters are not childproof and should be stored securely out of the reach of children. Lighters that look like toys can confuse children and cause fires, injuries, and death. Again, they are prohibited in Tennessee. Do not buy or use them.
• Teach young children to never touch matches and lighters, and to tell a grownup if they find them.
• Take the mystery out of fire by teaching children that fire is a tool to be used carefully by adults, not a toy for children. Never use lighters or matches as a source of amusement for children; they may try to do the same.
• Check under beds and in closets for burned matches, evidence your child might be playing with fire.
• Develop a home fire escape plan, practice it with your children and designate a safe meeting place outside your residence for the family to gather in case a fire occurs.
• Teach children not to hide from firefighters but to get out quickly and call for help from another location.
• Show children how to crawl on the floor below smoke, to get out of the home and stay out.
• Demonstrate how to stop, drop to the ground and roll if their clothes catch fire.
• Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Familiarize children with the sound of smoke alarms. Test smoke alarms each month and replace their batteries according to manufacturer’s instructions. Daylight saving time changes are opportunities to replace smoke alarm batteries if they are not 10-year batteries.
• Entirely replace any smoke alarm that is at least 10 years old.