image of child holding a match

In 2010, 90 U.S. deaths were reported due to fires started by children.

It is crucial that parents discuss fire safety with their children. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2010, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 44,900 fires that were started by someone, usually a child, playing with fire. These fires caused 90 civilian deaths, 890 civilian injuries, and $210 million in property damage.

The NFPA also reports:

  • Preschoolers and kindergartners are most likely to start these fires, typically by playing with matches and lighters, and are most likely to die in them.
  • Almost half of people who start reported home fires by playing were five years old or younger.
  • Two out of five child-playing home structure fires began in the bedroom.
  • Mattresses and bedding were the items first ignited in 24 percent of child-playing home structure fires.

To protect your children from fires, consider the following safety tips:

  • Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and sight. Store these items up high, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Never use lighters or matches as a source of amusement for children. Children 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, so you should also store them out of reach.
  • 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 fascinated with fire, get help. Your local fire department, school, or community counseling agency can put you in touch with trained experts.