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Salt Lake City, Utah

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Bret Hanna
Bret Hanna
Attorney • 435-649-2525

Child Playing with Matches Sets House on Fire

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A smoke alarm went off at about 9:00 a.m. this morning in a home in the 3100 West block of 5825 South in Roy and the fire department was called. When firefighters arrived, flames were shooting out of the front and the back of the house. The mother and her two toddlers who were in the house when the fire broke out escaped without injury. Investigators believe that one of the children lit a piece of paper on fire when the toddlers were playing together in the downstairs area of the home.

The National Fire Protection Association is a clearinghouse of information aimed at fire safety and it has a specific section devoted to children and fire. When it comes to safety tips, the organization offers the following:

  • 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 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 unduly fascinated with fire, get help. Your local fire department, school, or community counseling agency can put you in touch with trained experts.

These safety tips are particularly important when you consider the facts and figures:

  • In 2006, children playing with fire started an estimated 14,500 structure fires that were reported to U.S. fire departments, causing an estimated 130 civilian deaths, 810 civilian injuries and $328 million in direct property damage.
  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) of all fatal victims of fires by playing are children 5 years old and younger.
  • Nearly two out of every three child-playing fires — and four out of five associated deaths and injuries — involve matches or lighters.
  • The items ignited by home fire-play are principally mattresses, bedding or clothing.

Be safe and keep an eye on those kids.