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Teach children about dangers of fire

Posted 2/3/2011   Updated 2/3/2011 Email story   Print story


from 375th Civil Engineer Fire Department

2/3/2011 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- Children and fire are not a good combination and the statistics are there to prove it.
The National Fire Protection Association attributes hundreds of fire deaths and thousands of injuries each year to children playing with fire. The fires are typically caused by preschoolers who have found matches or lighters in their homes, and often wind up igniting bedding, furniture or their clothing.

Complete isolation of the two is not the answer, however, teaching children to have a healthy respect for fire is. This healthy respect starts in the home by educating even the youngest of children on the dangers of fire.

If a child expresses curiosity about fire or has been playing with fire, calmly but firmly explain that matches, lighters, candles and other fire-emitting items are tools for adults only.

"Talk with your kids honestly about the dangers of fire. Explain that while it might look neat, it could have very dangerous affects," said Carl Hodges, Scott's assistant chief for fire prevention.

There are several things parents can do to help prevent fire tragedies in their own homes.

"Teach young children to leave matches and lighters alone and to take them to an adult if they find them lying around," he said.

Lighters and matches should never be used as a source of amusement, especially around children. "Children learn by watching and imitating," said Mr. Hodges. "It only takes on imitation to create a tragic situation."

Additionally, buy and use lighters with child-resistant features whenever possible, being careful to remember that child-resistant does not mean child-proof. Matches and lighters, regardless of type, should also be out of children's reach and sight, even in a locked cabinet if possible.

Parents can also help by not leaving their children unsupervised around lit candles.
If a parent suspects their child has set a fire intentionally or is unusually fascinated with fire, there is help available. Your local fire department, school or community counseling agencies are all equipped to connect a family with trained experts.

For more information on how to educate your family on fire safety, contact the Scott Fire Prevention office at 256-3378.

Facts about kids and fire

Between 2004 and 2008:
More than 57,000 fires were cause by children, leading to more than 100 deaths and 900 injuries and more than $280 million in damages.

65 percent of child-playing home fires were started with lighters or matches, 41 percent of which began in the bed room. The leading items ignited were bedding and mattresses.

47 percent of child-playing home fires were caused by children ages 5 or younger; 65 perfect of the fatal victims were also ages 5 or younger.

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