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Kids & Fire: Tips For Preventing Disaster

A 12-year-old boy playing with a lighter lit an unintended fire that resulted in $350,000 of damages and affected three homes.

An accidental Sunday afternoon.

Fire investigators estimate a loss of $350,000 between the three homes; however, the property loss is just one result of the blaze that was sparked by a 12-year-old boy playing with a lighter.

Irreplaceable mementos were, no doubt, among the items lost. In this case, everyone escaped the incident without serious injury, including two dogs. One man was treated for smoke inhalation and released at the scene.

The Red Cross is assisting seven people displaced by the fire.

Fire is a fascinating thing to young people, but education and observation are key to preventing accidental fires.

Here are a few safety tips from National Fire Protection Association to keep yourself and your kids safe from setting an unintended fire:

  • Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and sight, up high, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Never use lighters or matches as a source of amusement for children; they may imitate you.
  • 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.
  • Teach young children and school-age children to tell an adult if they see matches or lighters.
  • Never leave matches or lighters in a bedroom or any place where children may go without supervision.
  • If you suspect your child is intentionally setting fires or unduly fascinated with fire, get help. Your local fire department, school, or community counseling agency can put you in touch with trained experts.

What is your experience with kids and fire? Have you found any tips and tricks for teaching fire safety or limiting your child’s access to fire starters and accelerants?

rentonben July 31, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Really? instead of surrounding your children in a bubble, I think it would be smarter to be a parent and teach your children how to use fire appropriately and the natural consequences of not treating it with respect. Of course, this would require effort.
Jenny Manning July 31, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Thanks for weighing in on this topic, rentonben. This is exactly why I asked parents (or caregivers) to give their tips, suggestions and personal insight for fire safety with kids. I can understand the National Fire Protection Association for really young children who may not be able to grasp the consequences of fire or its ability to spread so quickly, but I do know that at some point kids need to be taught to respect fire as well.
Joel Ennis August 26, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Ben, I am the neighbor who sustained the most damage and I agree with you. I also believe that the parents should have had the child apologize for the damage he inflicted on others. However, all of this assumes a certain level of intelligence and parenting ability that not everyone is fortunate enough to possess.

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