Few words strike fear in a parent’s heart like “fire.” There are many different ways for children to inadvertently start or be injured in a fire, and the potential for destruction is so great that the mere mention of fire can set off a panic among parents. Here are 10 of the most common dangers of fire in relation to children.
• Matches and Lighters – Most children have a natural curiosity about fire that is paired with a limited understanding of the dangers that are typically associated with it. Access to matches or lighters can present a very real fire hazard as that curiosity takes hold.
• Attempts at Cooking – Many appliances and gadgets in the kitchen produce heat; from the stove to the toaster, there are several opportunities for a child to accidentally set a kitchen fire in their attempts to cook.
• Burning Candles and Horseplay – Kids, especially when there are more than one in the room, have a tendency to spontaneously burst into spirited play. However, rough-housing in a room with a lit candle can lead to serious problems. Should the candle be knocked to the floor or a flammable object fall into its wick, a small fire can quickly become a large blaze.
• Campfires – Camping is a part of childhood for many, and sitting around campfires is a cherished part of the experience. When proper caution is exercised, the potential for a devastating fire injury is reduced; be sure that kids have a good knowledge of campfire safety before sending them off into the great outdoors.
• Unattended Fireplaces – There are few things as homey as a crackling fireplace on a cold day, but leaving the fire unattended in a house with children can easily lead to injury and property damage. Curious kids might be tempted to throw things into the fire or engage in other unsafe behavior in the absence of an adult.
• Hairstyling Appliances – Older kids that are beginning to use heated hairstyling appliances like curling irons and straighteners can create a fire hazard by placing the appliance on a flammable surface or forgetting to unplug it when they’re finished.
• Lamps – When messy kids throw clothing over a lamp, or those with a penchant for decorating deliberately place scarves over lampshades, they are inadvertently creating a fire hazard in their own bedrooms.
• Overloading Electrical Outlets – As more and more of the modern child’s entertainment comes from electronic gaming and computer devices, there may not be enough outlets in the room to accommodate everything. This can cause kids to overload outlets with surge protectors and the like, which can pose a serious fire risk.
• Flammable Substances – The moment that a kid understands what flammable liquid is and the noticeable effect it has on an already-burning fire, curiosity can take hold and lead to very serious trouble. Educating kids about the dangers and repercussions of playing with fire is the best way to prevent this risky behavior.
• Smoking – Despite the many programs aimed at keeping kids away from smoking, there will always be a few that insist on sneaking cigarettes. The need for secrecy paired with a limited understanding of fire safety make cigarette-related fires among the most common.
Kids are never too young to start learning about fire safety and prevention; this ongoing lesson could be one that saves their life. Additionally, if you have concerns that your child has an unhealthy fixation or obsession with fire, there are programs through your local fire department that can point you in the right direction to get help.