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Children's Safety and Fire Education
Where Children Play with Fire:

At home, children typically play with fire in bedrooms, in closets and under beds. These are their secret places where there are many things that can catch fire easily. Young children are not given sufficient education and guidance regarding fire and its dangers. Unfortunately, as a result, they often repeat their fire setting behavior.

Signs that Children are Curious:
  • They may ask questions about fire(s).
  • They may stare at or seem overly fascinated with fire.
  • They may point to or try to touch matches or lighters.
  • They may run to the window when fire trucks pass by.


Fire is the leading cause of death in the home for young children in the U.S. Children of all ages set more than 100,000 fires annually. Approximately 25,000 of those fires are set in the home.
  • Of every 100 people in the U.S. 16 are children.
  • Of every 100 people who die in fires in the U.S. 23 are children.
  • Of every 100 people who die in child-set fires in the U.S. 85 are children.
  • Of every 100 children who die in fires in the U.S. 24 are set by children playing with fire.
  • Of every ten fires, fire experts say that eight are preventable.

Myths about Children and Fire

It is normal for children to play with fire.
Fact: While curiosity about fire is common, playing with fire is not and can have devastating consequences.

Myth: It is "just a phase" and the child will "grow out of it."
Fact: Fire setting is not a phase and parents should deal with it immediately or it will continue and possible escalate.

Myth: If the fires are small, it's no big deal.
Fact: All fires start small. Any fire set by a child no matter the size, has the potential to harm the child and others.

Preventing Tragedies

The tragedies caused by child fire setting and playing with fire can be prevented...
  • By teaching children about fire
  • By controlling their access to fire
  • By setting a good example

Teaching Children about Fire
  • Teach children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
  • Teach children the nature of fire— it is fast, hot and deadly. It can quickly get out of control and be very dangerous if not handled properly.
  • Discuss the positive uses of fire— such as for cooking food, heating homes, etc.
  • Teach children that fire is useful, but not magic.
  • Teach children how to crawl low on the floor, below smoke, to get out of the house in case of fire.
  • Teach children how to stop, drop, and roll if their clothes catch on fire.

Controlling Your Child's Access to Fire
  • Keep matches and lighters out of children's reach!
  • Matches and lighters should be handled only by adults.
  • Instruct children to tell adults whenever they see carelessly discarded matches or lighters.
  • Allow your curious child to assist you in making fire and heat related activities safe.
  • Never leave cooking food, candles, open heaters, or lit cigarettes unattended.
  • Never leave electric cords hanging down where your children can play with them and use special outlet covers for outlets.
  • Keep flammable liquids out of your children's reach.
  • Make sure your fireplace has a screen over it.

Setting a Good Example
  • Model safe practices— such as wearing tight-fitting sleeves, using pot holders, and turning pan handles in while cooking.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children.
  • Use safe ashtrays and carefully dispose of ashes.
  • Never allow children to light pipes or cigarettes.
  • Never play "tricks" with a lighter or matches.
  • Store flammable liquids away from heaters, furnace, etc.
  • Make sure your wood stove is installed properly.
  • Make sure your relatives or guests adopt your rules while in your home.
  • Check that your smoke detector is in working order on a monthly basis.