Teach Children Fire Safety At An Early Age

One of the primary causes of residential fire deaths and injuries for children under 10 is playing with a heat source, which includes lighters and matches. It’s a nationwide problem that the Collierville Fire Department hopes parents will address by following some simple safety tips.

“We urge parents to teach children at an early age about the dangers of playing with fire, to prevent child injuries, fire deaths and fire-setting behavior,” said Public Education Specialist, Erin Daniels. “If your child expresses curiosity about fire or has been playing with fire, calmly but firmly explain the dangers and that matches and lighters are tools for adults only.”

During 2009-2013, 1,059 fires were reported in which playing with a heat source was identified as a factor contributing to ignition, state records show. Playing with a heat source resulted in three deaths, 21 injuries and $8.2 million of property damage – 39 percent of these fires were in structures and nearly 55 percent were outside fires. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 3,500 Americans die and approximately 18,300 are injured annually in fires.

In 2008, Tennessee banned the sale of novelty lighters in the state. These lighters usually resemble cartoon characters, toys, guns, watches, musical instruments, and animals, and often include entertaining audio and visual effects. They pose a serious fire hazard, especially in the hands of children who mistake them for toys. Toy-like or novelty lighters have been responsible for injuries, deaths, and accidents across the nation.

Below are some facts about children and fire safety. Teach your children the importance of fire-safe habits, and practice a home fire escape plan with them today.

source NFPA

Curious kids set fires

  • Children 14 and under make up 10-15 percent of all fire deaths.

  • Fifty-two percent of all child fire deaths that occur involve those under 5. These children are usually unable to escape from a fire independently.

  • At home, children often play with fire in bedrooms, in closets and under beds to avoid detection. These locations just so happen to contain a lot of flammable materials.

  • Too often, child fire-setters are not given proper guidance and supervision by parents and teachers. Consequently, they repeat their fire-setting behavior.

Practice fire safety in your home

  • Supervise young children closely. Do not leave them alone, even for short periods of time.

  • Keep matches and lighters in a locked drawer or cabinet, high out of the reach children.

  • Purchase and use only child-resistant lighters. Even child-resistant lighters are not childproof and should be stored securely out of the reach of children. Lighters that look like toys can confuse children and cause fires, injuries, and death. Again, they are prohibited in Tennessee. Do not buy or use them.

  • Teach young children to never touch matches and lighters, and to tell a grownup if they find them.

  • Take the mystery out of fire by teaching children that fire is a tool to be used carefully by adults, not a toy for children. Never use lighters or matches as a source of amusement for children; they may try to do the same.

  • Check under beds and in closets for burned matches, evidence your child might be playing with fire.

  • Develop a home fire escape plan with two ways out of every room. Practice it with your children and designate a safe meeting place outside your residence for the family to gather in case a fire occurs.

  • Teach children not to hide from firefighters but to get out quickly and call for help from another location.

  • Show children how to crawl on the floor below smoke, to get out of the home and stay out.

  • Demonstrate how to stop, drop to the ground, cover their face, and roll if their clothes catch fire.

  • Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Familiarize children with the sound of smoke alarms. Test smoke alarms each month and replace their batteries according to manufacturer’s instructions. Daylight saving time changes, in the fall and spring, are great times to replace smoke alarm batteries if they are not 10-year batteries.

  • Entirely replace any smoke alarm that is 10 years old or older


Collierville Fire Department:
 1251 Peterson Lake Road, Collierville, TN 38017 | (901) 457-2400 | Emergency: 9-1-1

© 2019 Collierville Fire Department. All rights reserved.  AP&D  Content (data and photography) contained herein is the property of the Collierville Fire Department and/or the individual(s) who provided the imagery or data for usage and is to be considered protected by copyright. Content is maintained by individual departments. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information within this website. Collierville Fire & Rescue and The Town of Collierville do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability in their hiring and employment practices, or in admission to, access to, or operation of its programs, services, and activities pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 200d) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L 101-336