Focus on Fire Safety - Children
By the Numbers: Children and Fire
- In 2006, an estimated 14,500 child-playing structure fires were reported to U.S. municipal fire departments, with associated losses of 130 civilian deaths, 810 civilian injuries, and $328 million in direct damage.
- Children under the age of 5 are more than eight times as likely to die in fire caused by playing with the heat source than are people of all ages.
- Most child-playing home fires are started with lighters or matches.
- Almost half (42%) of child-playing home structure fires begin in the bedroom.
- Leading items ignited by home fire-play are mattresses, bedding, and clothing.
Prepare. Practice. Prevent the Unthinkable.
USFA's Prepare. Practice. Prevent the Unthinkable. fire prevention campaign urges parents and caregivers to install and maintain working smoke alarms, safely store lighters and matches out of children's reach and sight, and practice a fire escape plan with small children.
On the USFA Kids Page you’ll find short lessons about fire escape planning, smoke alarms, and home fire safety. Also, kids can play games to reinforce the information learned in the lessons. Through a 10-question quiz, children have the opportunity to earn a Jr. Fire Marshal certificate.
Children and Fire – Life Saving Tips
Young children are not able to sense danger in the same way as adults. They have a very limited ability to react quickly and properly in an emergency situation as well as little control over their environment. This increases their risk of death and injury in a fire.
- Keep matches, lighters and other items used for ignition in a secured drawer or cabinet out of the reach of children.
- Teach you children to tell you when they find matches and lighters.
- Always dress children in pajamas that meet Federal flammability standards. Avoid dressing children for sleep in loose-fitting, 100% cotton garments, such as oversized t-shirts.
- Teach children not to hide from firefighters, but to get out quickly and call for help from another location.
- Show children how to crawl low on the floor, below the smoke, to get out of the house and stay out.
- Demonstrate how to stop, drop to the ground, and roll if clothes catch fire.
- Develop and practice a home fire escape plan and designate a meeting place outside. Get out and stay out.
- Familiarize children with the sound of your smoke alarm.
- Replace mattresses made prior to the 2007 Federal Mattress Flammability Standard.
- Check under beds and in closets for burnt matches, evidence your child may be playing with fire.
Prevention Starts with You!
As of 2004, 96 percent of homes in the United States had at least one smoke alarm. However, only three-quarters of all homes had at least one working smoke alarm.
Sixty-five percent of reported home fire deaths in 2000-2004 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
What Can You Do?
- Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home.
- Test smoke alarm batteries every month and change them at least once a year.
- Consider installing a 10-year lithium battery-powered smoke alarm, which is sealed so it cannot be tampered with or opened.
- Create and practice an escape route with your family.
Cut your family's chances of dying in a house fire in half by having a working smoke alarm. Practicing fire-safe behaviors and knowing what to do in an emergency can give your family extra seconds to escape.
Download Focus on Fire Safety Poster Artwork
- Focus on Fire Safety: Children (PDF, 178 Kb) Download and customize this poster for local use.
- Children and Smoke Alarms
- Children's Fire-Related Product Recalls
- Novelty/Toylike Lighters
- Teaching Children Fire Safety
Links of Interest
- Be FireSmart: An Interactive Approach to Fire Safety
- Consumer Product Safety Commission
- FEMA for Kids
- Safe Kids Escape Fire
- Sparky the Fire Dog
- The Burn Institute
Source: US Fire Administration