Children & Fire 

Child and firefighter spraying a hose

Any time a child plays with fire, the outcome can be deadly. The National Fire Protection Association reports that just over half of the child-playing with matches of lighters fires in the home are started in a bedroom. This leads us to the statistic indicating that fires are the leading cause of death in the home for children under the age of five.

You can prevent most fire setting by following these three steps:

Step 1: Teach your child about fire

  • Fire is a tool we use to heat our homes or cook our food
  • Fire is not a toy
  • If matches or lighters are found, give them to an adult
  • Even adults must follow special safety rules for fire

Step 2: Control your child's access to fire

  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children
  • Never allow the unsafe use of lighters or matches in your home
  • Never leave cooking or candles unattended
  • Teach children to bring found matches and lighters to you or another grown-up

Step 3: Set a good example

  • Install and maintain smoke alarms
  • Plan and practice your home fire escape plan
  • Regularly inspect your home for fire hazards
  • Teach children to "Stop, Drop & Roll," should their clothing catch on fire

The following is a list of "Red Flags" or indicators that your child may have a serious fire-setting problem. If your child has set more than one fire or has had more than one incident of fireplay and one or more of the following, you are encouraged to seek professional help:

  • Recent changes in behavior
  • Attention deficits, temper tantrums, mood swings, impulsive behavior or excessive anger
  • Problems at school, such as discipline, learning problems or unexplained absences
  • Other troublesome behaviors such as stealing, lying, and drug or alcohol use
  • Deliberate efforts to collect fire materials
  • Failed to get help to extinguish a fire
  • Shows extreme curiosity about fire
  • Recent losses due to health, divorce, loss of friendships, move, etc.
  • History of being abused or neglected
  • Sad, withdrawn appearance
  • Poor self esteem and family stresses
  • Daydreams about fire
  • Boasts about setting fires
  • Aggressive behavior toward people or animals
  • Behaviors indicating he/she is a loner, a risk taker or a fighter
  • Fire set deliberately to harm others or to destroy property
  • Fire set out of anger or in response to a family problem

It is important not to frighten or scare your child. Don't punish him/her for being curious about the world and the fascinating things in it. These tactics don't work because they don't teach your child anything about fire.

Instead, talk to your child in a calm, assured manner, explaining your worry for his/her safety. If assistance from the Fire Department is required, please call 519-752-0540.