Each year in the United States, children and youth that play with fire cause hundreds of deaths and injuries. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2006 an estimated 14,500 structure fires involving “fire-play” were reported to U.S. municipal fire departments. These fires resulted in 130 civilian deaths, 810 civilian injuries, and $328 million dollars in direct property damage.
Preschoolers and kindergartners are most likely to start these fires, typically by playing with matches and lighters. Almost half of child-playing home structure fires begin in the bedroom. Items ignited by home fire-play are most often mattresses, bedding, or clothing.
Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) provides you the below safety tips that can help keep children and youth away from fire:
- Keep matches and lighters either on your person, or in a locked compartment. Controlling the access to dangerous fire tools has been shown to be the most effective way to protect your family from child-set fires.
- Remember to always use matches and lighters in an appropriate and responsible manner. Our children learn respect for fire tools from the example we set for them.
- 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.
- Use only lighters designed with child-resistant features. Remember child-resistant does not mean child proof. *** In March 2009, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed House Bill 2365 which prohibits the selling or distribution of novelty (toylike) lighters in Oregon. The bill is designed to prevent lighters that look like toys from getting into the hands of children. Click here to read more about the “Novelty/Toylike Lighter Program” on the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s website.
- Teach young children and school-age children to tell an adult if they see matches or lighters.
PF&R’s Juvenile Fire Setters Program
If you suspect your child is intentionally setting fires or maybe unduly fascinated with fire, please contact the Juvenile Fire Setting Intervention Manager in Portland Fire & Rescue’s Public Education Office at (503) 823-3806 or PF&R’s Main Office at (503) 823-3700 to set up an appointment for evaluation and education.
Click here to learn more about preventing firesetting behavior, what is firesetting, firesetting myths, firesetting differences, and how PF&R can help to provide fire safety education for your family.
Portland Fire & Rescue
We Respond: Always Ready, Always There
April 13, 2011