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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

Playing with Matches - Accidents and Tragedies

By September 21, 2012

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"Don't play with matches or lighters."

It is a lesson that most of us try to teach our kids. Curious children, especially young children or children who get together in a group, will often find matches or a lighter hard to resist though. That makes keeping them secure even more important than your warnings.

We were reminded of that in these recent incidents:

  • a fire in Bradenton, Florida that displaced four families in an apartment building in a family that was started by a young child playing with matches in his room, supposedly trying to light a candle when he dropped a lit match.
  • a fire in Danville Virginia that caused a massive duplex fire that displaced four families and was started by kids playing with matches.
  • a fire in Canadaigua, New York that was caused by a 4-year-old playing with wood stick matches.
  • a fire in Fostoria, Ohio that was caused by a child playing with matches.

Luckily, everyone made it out of the house during these fires. That isn't always the case though. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, "each year in this country, fires set by children are responsible for more than 100 fire deaths, nearly 1,000 painful burn injuries, and hundreds of millions of dollars in property loss."

To help prevent your kids from setting fires and playing with matches and lighters, the USFA recommends that parents:

  • teach young children that fire is a tool, not a toy
  • keep matches and lighters out of reach, in high, ideally locked cabinets
  • set a good example by safely using matches, lighters and fire
  • use child-resistant lighters

This is also a good time to go over your home fire escape plan and to make sure that you have working smoke detectors throughout your home. If you child did set a fire while playing with matches, would you know what to do?

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