May 9, 2023 — For Arson Awareness Week, May 7–13, find out more about mitigating the causes of youth fire setting.
Youth fire setting is a problem throughout the United States and around the world. Fire misuse behaviors in children may be attributed to issues such as curiosity or experimentation, underlying struggles with impulse control, emotional regulation, social and interpersonal skills, childhood trauma, or other behavioral health conditions. Children observe adults using matches and lighters but may not be taught about important fire safety practices. They may also observe unsafe uses of fire in media, videos and gaming.
Follow these tips to keep your family safe:
- Limit the number of matches and lighters in the home. Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children, up high, preferably in a locked cabinet.
- Closely supervise children, making sure that they are kept away from other fire sources, including lit candles, cigarettes, bonfires, and stoves.
- Explain that fire moves very fast and can hurt as soon as it touches them. Tell them that this is why matches and lighters are tools for adults only and not toys for children.
- Teach young children to never touch matches or lighters. They must go tell a grown-up when matches or lighters are found.
- Establish clear rules and consequences about unsupervised and unauthorized uses of fire.
- Be a good example! Always use fire sources — matches , lighters , candles, fireplaces and campfires — in a safe manner. Never treat them as toys, or children may imitate you.
- Talk with children about what their friends or other children are doing with fire. What are they seeing online in video games, on TV, in movies, and on social media? Teach them specific ways to resist the peer pressure to misuse fire.
- Give praise for showing respect and age-appropriate responsible behavior toward fire.
For more information about fire and life safety related topics and resources, please visit the National Fire Protection Association online at nfpa.org.