The United States Fire Administration (USFA) reports that between 2005 and 2009, fires started by children accounted for an average of 56,300 fires resulting in 110 deaths, 880 injuries and $286 million in property damage each year. In child-playing fires, lighters were the heat source in 50% of the home fires that often occurred within a child’s bedroom. (40% of child-playing fires occur in a child’s bedroom.)
Reports indicate, 37% of child-playing fires were started by children between 10 - 17 years of age when age was cited as a factor and lighters or matches were the key ignition source. In 2010, children under the age of 16 accounted for 45% of arson arrests. During this period, arrests for arson crimes among juveniles were higher than for any other crime.
USFA is partnering with the International Association of Arson Investigators, Safe Kids USA, USAonWatch, National Volunteer Fire Council and the National Association of State Fire Marshals in the initiation of National Arson Awareness Week, May 6th – 12th, to focus public attention on minimizing the occurrence of juveniles engaged with fire. Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue (www.pwcgov.org/fire
) is seeking community assistance in protecting our children, our most valuable resource, from fire, injury or worse by taking the necessary steps to prevent youth firesetting.
- Always supervise young children.
- Never leave matches or lighters within reach of children. Keep matches and lighters out of reach in high, locked cabinets.
- Use child-resistant lighters, but remember that they are not child proof.
- Instruct young children to inform an adult if they find matches or lighters.
Additional Home Fire Safety Tips
- Regularly inspect your home for fire hazards.
- Install and maintain working smoke alarms throughout your home.
- Plan and practice home fire-escape drills that include two ways out from every room.
- Install residential fire sprinklers in your home.