Children Playing with Matches, Lighters Has Caused $4.8M in Loss over Last 5 Years
NASHVILLE – While matches and lighters are useful resources to adults, curious children may use them to unintentionally start fires. The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) is urging parents to talk to their kids about the safe uses of matches and lighters, while ensuring these tools are stored in a secure location out of children’s reach and sight.
Novelty lighters resembling children’s toys can attract curious kids who may see these items as fun, but may not recognize them as potential fire hazards. While Tennessee banned the sale of novelty lighters in 2008, these products can still be found and represent a potential threat to lives and property.
In the last five years (2013-2017), Tennessee fire departments reported 400 fires in which playing with matches or lighters was a contributing factor, according to the Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System. Fires resulting from playing with matches or lighters caused one civilian death, 19 civilian injuries, one firefighter injury, and $4.8 million in property damage during that time. More than half of those fires were structure fires.
“We encourage parents to have early conversations with children about the uses and dangers of fire,” said Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak. “While there are many useful purposes of matches and lighters for adults, children need to understand fire is a tool, not a toy.”
The SFMO offers the following fire safety tips for parents:
· Supervise children closely. Many fires happen when young children are left alone, even for a short period of time.
· Set clear rules and consequences about fire misuse.
· Keep matches and lighters in a locked drawer or cabinet, high out of the reach of children.
· Purchase and use only lighters designed with child-resistant features. Remember, child-resistant does not mean child-proof.
· Teach young children to never touch matches and lighters, and to tell a grownup if they find them. Children need to understand that fire is difficult to control; it is fast, and can hurt as soon as it touches you.
· Take the mystery out of fire by teaching children that fire is a tool for 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.
· Have working smoke alarms inside each sleeping area, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of your home.
· Develop a home fire escape plan, practice it with your children and designate a safe meeting place outside your residence.
· Teach children not to hide from firefighters. Show them how to crawl on the floor below smoke, to get out of the home, and to stay out.
· Demonstrate how to stop, drop to the ground, and roll if their clothes catch fire. Make sure your children can differentiate stop, drop, and roll from other fire safety messages.
For more fire safety tips and to download a free, high-resolution calendar showcasing photos of the Tennessee fire service, visit TN.gov/fire.