Each year, children start many fires. About half of these fires are started with matches and lighters. Learn to prevent children from playing with lighters and matches.
Match and lighter safety with children
- Matches and lighters are tools, not toys. Each year, children start fires, about half with matches and lighters. Children set fires for many reasons; they may be curious about fire, crying for help, or engaging in delinquent behavior.
- Never allow children to play with lighters or matches. Children as young as two have started fires with lighters.
- Matches and lighters can be deadly in a child's hands. Keep all matches and lighters out of reach in a high cabinet, preferably a locked one.
- Do not leave young children unattended. It only takes a few seconds for a fire to start and burn out of control. Don't leave children under 12 alone and don't leave them in charge of younger children.
- Teach young children to tell a grown-up when they see matches or lighters. Remind them not to pick them up. Praise children when they tell you they see matches and lighters. Tell them to ask an adult to move lighters and matches to a safe place.
- Keep your home safe from fire. Maintain your smoke alarms. Don't leave candles burning unattended. Plan a home fire escape route and hold a practice drill at least twice a year.
- If you or a family member smokes, extinguish matches and smoking materials fully. Wet them before disposing of them. Use a child resistant lighter and don't disable the feature. Doing so makes the lighter a fire risk.
- Teach children about safe uses of fire like cooking, heating, and birthday candles. Explain that fire is dangerous and only for grown-ups. Set a good example by using matches, lighters, flammable liquids and fire safely. Tell children that you will teach them to use matches when they are old enough. When your child is old enough, teach them the correct way to light a match. Do this when you are using fire for a reason. For example, let your child light birthday candles on a cake.
- If your child is overly interested in fire, has started a fire, or has played with matches and lighters, address your child’s natural curiosity about fire. Teach them about fire danger and how small fires grow large. The potential for a deadly fire is real. If your child is overly interested in fire, has started a fire, or has played with matches and lighters, call your local fire department and ask if they have a juvenile firesetters intervention program.