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Home > Natural Resources > Disaster Resources

Teach Your Children Well
Youth Started Wildfire By Playing With Matches

Youth fire safety tips to prepare children for disaster prevention

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FIRE SAFETY TIPS

  • 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 to tell an adult if they see matches or lighters, and teach school-age children to bring any matches or lighters to an adult.
  • 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.
The fire that charred more than 38,000 acres and destroyed 21 homes in northern Los Angeles County (October 2007) was sparked by a boy playing with matches, sheriff's officials said Tuesday.

L.A. County Sheriff's Department arson investigators did not name the boy believed responsible for the Buckweed fire. Nor did they give his age or the community where he and his family live.

The boy was released to the custody of his parents. The case has been turned over to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. The only other information Whitmore provided was that investigators concluded the fire was sparked by an individual the day after it began but that it took more time to link the blaze to the boy.

At its height, the blaze forced more than 15,000 people from their homes and was battled by 1,200 firefighters.

Monitor Very Young Children to Prevent Fires

In 2002, children playing with fire started an estimated 13,900 structure fires that were reported to U.S. fire departments, causing an estimated 210 civilian deaths, 1,250 civilian injuries and $339 million in direct property damage.

Children playing with fire cause hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries each year. Preschoolers are most likely to start these fires, typically by playing with matches and lighters, and are most likely to die in them.

Roughly two out of every three child-playing fires -- and three out of four associated deaths and injuries -- involve matches or lighters.

Children who start fires may be children in crisis, with the fires acting as cries for help from stressful life experiences or abuse, according to studies of fire-setting behavior.

National Fire Protection Association



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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