Children and Fire
It's natural for young children to be curious and ask questions about fire, play with fire trucks or pretend to cook. Use these opportunities to teach them about fire safety.
- Explain that fire moves very fast and can hurt as soon as it touches them
- Teach children the nature of fire - It is FAST, HOT, DARK and DEADLY
- Explain that matches and lighters are tools for adults only
- Store matches and lighters out of their reach, up high, preferably in a locked cabinet
- Set a good example by always using fire sources (i.e., matches, lighters, candles, fireplaces, campfires, etc.) safely; never treat them as toys
- Talk with children about what their friends or other children are doing with fire and teach them specific ways to resist peer pressure to misuse fire
Fire Safety with Sparky the Fire Dog
Kids learn best in a hands-on, interactive way. At sparky.org, kids can find interactive online games, activities (i.e., colouring pages, matching games, number activities, mazes, etc.) and more to help them learn essential fire safety while playing games they will love.
Youth Firesetter Intervention, Referral and Education Service (Y-FIRES)
Some children play with fire out of curiosity, boredom or peer pressure, not realizing its danger. Other children misuse fire because they are struggling with problems or emotions. Without proper intervention and instruction, children who misuse fire will very likely do so again.
Alberta fire statistics show that approximately 20% of child fire victims died in fires they started themselves. Matches and lighters were used in 70% of the destructive fires started by children.
If your child has misused fire, deliberately started a fire, or if you are concerned about your child's interest in fire, please contact the Fire Prevention Office at 780-496-3628 and ask about Y-FIRES.
About the Y-FIRES Program
The Youth Firesetter Intervention, Referral and Education Service (Y-FIRES) evaluates and educates children and youth who have misused, deliberately started or whose interest in fire is a concern.
Children and youth may be referred to the program by parents, teachers, social workers or anyone who is concerned about a child who has misused fire.
Children referred to Y-FIRES attend a single meeting which includes:
- An interview with both the parent/caregiver and the child/youth
- An incident overview
- An educational discussion
- A video discussion
- Referral to professional help when necessary
Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Specialists can help youth understand that "playing with" or misusing fire is very dangerous. Deliberate fire setting is a serious manner. Youth who have deliberately started a fire may be indirectly indicating additional, underlying problems. Edmonton Fire Rescue Services can assist with a referral to outside agencies for further assessment when needed.
Signs Your Child May Be "Playing With" or Misusing Fire
- Smells of smoke
- Has burned or singed clothing (i.e., pant or coat cuffs)
- Has singed hair, eyebrows or eyelashes
- Has burned fingers or conceals fingers to hide burned areas
- Used matches in the garbage or toilet
- Burned or melted items (i.e., toys, paper or plastic) in garbage cans or under furniture
What Parents Can Do
- Locate matches and lighters in your home and dispose of them or place them in a secure area
- If you smoke, keep the lighter with you at all times and dispose of other lighters
- Teach your children to tell an adult when they find matches or lighters
- As a family, test your smoke alarms monthly, develop a home fire escape plan and practice it regularly
- Perform your own home fire inspection to ensure your home is fire safe