Don’t Let Your Lighter Snuff Out a Life
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The Johnson County Fire and Emergency Services Chief’s Association and Fire District #1 would like to alert the public to a growing concern.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), children under the age of five, cause more than 5,000 residential fires a year, which result in approximately 150 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries. Many of the children who started these fires were merely curious about fire; others were using fire in anger or as an act of vandalism.

Children have a natural curiosity about fire. It is important to never use matches or lighters as entertainment. Children will mimic this action. Parents need to explain to their children that lighters and matches are not toys and that fires can hurt or kill. Unfortunately, there are many novelty lighters on the market, which are designed to look like toys. These are very attractive to both adults and children. We must teach our children that lighters are tools that should only be used by adults to light appropriate fires, such as candles on a birthday cake or the charcoal grill. Parents should instruct children to notify an adult if they ever find matches and lighters lying around.

Children as young as two years old are capable of operating lighters. Typically, fires are started in bedrooms. Children rarely notify an adult that they have started a fire. Some children hide in their bedroom closet and become trapped. The installation of smoke alarms in all bedrooms will aid in early fire notification.

You would never leave a loaded gun lying around the house. A loaded gun in the hands of a child would be disastrous. A child with a lighter or matches can be just as dangerous. Store matches and lighters in a locked cabinet or out of reach and out of site of children. Don’t be confused; lighters today or not child-proof, they are merely child-resistant.

Encourage convenience store owners and retail establishments who sale matches and lighters to store them behind the counter. They should be located where children can not readily gain access to them.

If you catch or suspect that your children are playing with matches or lighters, confront them about it. This could be your only chance to educate them. Many fire departments have programs that deal with juvenile fire setting. Contact your local fire department if you need assistance or advice. Working together, we can make our community a safer place to raise our families.