Why Children Shouldn’t Play With Matches: Fire Prevention and Safety Tips

Easter is supposed to be a day of glory, celebration, resurrection and new life.  Unfortunately, this past Easter Sunday while watching the news I heard about a tragic story about a brother and sister, both only 4 years old, who had died earlier that morning after a fire erupted at their grandfather’s home Queens, NY.  What made it even more devastating was that the fire was apparently sparked by one of the children playing around with a lighter in a basement bedroom.  This was truly a sad story, but also frustrating because it could have been prevented by teaching that child about the power and danger of fire.

THM_FirePreventionSo today’s post is a sort of fire prevention PSA, I’m not waiting until October for Fire Prevention week.  If this information can help to prevent even one fire or save one person, sharing it now is well worth it!

According to research from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), each year there are more than 1.3 million fires reported in the United States. These fires cause more than 3,400 civilian deaths, 17,500 civilian injuries and cause more than $12.4 billion in property damage.

An overwhelming number of these fires occur in the home. When it comes to household fires, the heroics don’t start with firefighters; they start with each of us in our own homes.   There are several proven, time-tested ways to both prevent and survive a fire. It’s not a question of luck. It’s a matter of planning ahead.


Here are tips from the NFPA:

Every Home Should Have at Least One Working Smoke Alarm

Buy a smoke alarm at any hardware or discount store. It’s inexpensive protection for you and your family. Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. A working smoke alarm can double your chances of survival. Test your smoke alarms monthly, keep it free of dust and replace the batteries at least once a year (we replace them twice a year, whenever we change the clocks forward or backward). Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after ten years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Prevent Electrical Fires

Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them either professionally repaired or replaced.

Use Appliances Wisely

When using appliances follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.

Alternate Heaters

  • Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
  • Keep fire in the fireplace. Use fire screens and have your chimney cleaned annually. The creosote buildup can ignite a chimney fire that could easily spread.
  • Kerosene heaters should be used only where approved by authorities. Never use gasoline or camp-stove fuel. Refuel outside and only after the heater has cooled.

Affordable Home Fire Safety Sprinklers

When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Fire sprinklers are now more affordable for home installation. They can increase property value and also lower your home insurance rates.

Plan Your Escape

Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Memorize the route from your bedrooms to the exit of the house, so you’ll be able to safely execute in darkness. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.

Caring for Children

Children under five are naturally curious about fire. Many play with matches and lighters, so make sure to keep them out of children’s reach and secure in locked cabinets or drawers.  Also, take the mystery out of fire play by teaching your children that fire is a dangerous tool and not a toy to be played with carelessly.

Caring for Older People

Every year over 1,000 senior citizens die in fires. Many of these fire deaths could have been prevented. Seniors are especially vulnerable because many live alone and can’t respond quickly.


Now it’s your turn to share. Do you have a fire escape plan for your family in your home?




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  1. says

    Very important for every person!!

    I deal in smoke & carbon monoxide alarm installation and my years of experience tells that Smoke alarms should be replaced after every 10 years of gap and you should never disable smoke or carbon monoxide alarms.

    • TheHarriedMom says

      Yes, we’ve taught our kids about escape routes since they were 3 and could get around on their own.

    • TheHarriedMom says

      I do that all the time with my flat iron for my hair. I rather go back and check then worry the whole time I’m out of the house!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      Thanks for the kind words Autumn! It’s never too early to teach kids about fire safety & prevention.

    • TheHarriedMom says

      Exactly, it’s because kids are curious that they get into trouble with fire. By talking and showing them head on the hope to teach them respect for it and that it’s not a toy, it can hurt you.

  2. says

    Those are definitely some great tips. Even older kids need to be taught the importance of fire safety. My 13 year old and her friend set a fire in the woods beside our house with sparklers. If it had not been for my oldest daughter’s boyfriend and his quick thinking it could have been a really bad situation.
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    • TheHarriedMom says

      Wow, it doesn’t take much to start a fire. We have a cover for our fire pit and I still worry when embers fly out.

  3. says

    You know, I don’t even think we have matches in the house. I know we have a couple of those long “candle” lighters, but they are up in a cabinet that half the time, I don’t even remember we have them. My husband trained to be a firefighter so we’ve got someone always looking out for us!
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    • TheHarriedMom says

      That’s great that he’s a trained fireman – I’m sure he’s got the safety thing under major control!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      So sad. Kids are so curious about fire, and they think that playing with a lighter is like playing with a toy.

  4. says

    Thanks for sharing these tips. It’s a good reminder for me to have another talk with myown kids about the importance of fire safety.

    • TheHarriedMom says

      Exactly, the story I saw on TV was so sad. If only that child knew that playing with a lighter and fire was dangerous….

    • TheHarriedMom says

      My parents had one of those ladders under their bed, but we never talked about what we’d do in case of a fire. With my own kids we do – and we review that plan and our meeting place outside the house a few times a year. Hopefully we’ll never have to use it, but if we do we have a plan.

    • TheHarriedMom says

      We have a fire pit and 2 fireplaces in our home. We make sure to keep matches on the top shelf of a locked closet and those lighter wands are kept in the garage on a high shelf that even I have to use a stepladder for!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      Wow, I’m so glad you were safe. That must have been a horrible and scary experience. I’m sure you’re vigilant t today about it though!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      I know what you mean, most people only focus on fire safety & prevention when it’s Fire Prevention Week in October – but we should keep up with it all year round.

    • TheHarriedMom says

      Good for you – that’s the way it should be – to teach them that it is something serious and that only adults should handle!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      That’s great – but also make sure that she knows playing with fire is a no no if she ever finds matches or a lighter on the street!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      Absolutely! It’s so important for them to know fire isn’t something to play with or “fun.”

    • TheHarriedMom says

      Wow, that must have been scary. I hope everyone got out safely! I’m sure you make sure that everything is fire-proof in your home!

    • TheHarriedMom says

      Me too. I neurotic about keeping matches and lighters away from the kids. But we’ve also taught them to respect fire – and that the only people who can use fire are adults.

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