Home Fire Prevention, Children Ages Five to Nine Years

Each year in New York State, fire-related injuries are the leading cause of death due to injury for children aged five through nine. Smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths.

The good news is that you, as a parent or caregiver, can play a major role in preventing fire-related injuries.

What laws related to fire safety are important for me to know?

All disposable and novelty (toy-like) cigarette lighters must have a child resistant mechanism that makes them difficult for children under age five to operate. Novelty lighters look or sound like toys or other items that appeal to children under age five. Homes where children live or visit should not have novelty lighters.

Children's sleepwear (size nine months to 14 years) that is not tight-fitting must be resistant to flames and self-extinguish if a flame from a candle, match, lighter or a similar item causes it to catch fire. Children's sleepwear includes clothing such as nightgowns, robes, pajamas and loungewear that is made primarily for sleeping. Check the label of your child's sleepwear to make sure it is flame-resistant.

Rental property owners must install and maintain smoke alarms in rental units- outside of each separate sleeping area, in each room used for sleeping purposes and on every level of the home including basements and cellars.

All consumer fireworks (fireworks set off by untrained individuals), are illegal in New York State. These include sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and even glow-worms/snakes (charcoal-colored sulphur worms that "grow" when ignited). Consumer fireworks cause injuries most often to the hands, eyes, head, face, and ears. More than half of these injuries are burns.

Where do most fires occur?

Most fires occur in the home.

What are the leading causes of home fire deaths and injuries?

  • Cooking equipment:

    Cooking equipment is the leading cause of both home fires and home fire injuries. More home fires start in the kitchen than in any other place in the house. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is leaving the kitchen while food is cooking.

  • Heating equipment:

    Heating equipment (such as chimneys and space heaters) is the second leading cause of home fires, home fire injuries and deaths.

  • Electrical:

    Electrical fires are the third leading type of home fires.

What is the best way to protect my child from death and injuries in case of a home fire?

The best way to protect your child is to make sure that your house has working smoke alarms, a fire escape plan and, if possible, a home fire sprinkler system. Install smoke alarms on each level of your house (including the basement), outside each sleeping area, and inside each bedroom. Test each smoke alarm every month to make sure it is working correctly by pushing the test button with your finger. Replace smoke alarms every 10 years. Gently vacuum your alarms to clean them.

How can I teach my child to get out of the house safely in case of a fire?

Create and practice a home fire escape plan with all family members. This will help your child react more quickly and safely exit the house.

What should the fire escape plan include?

The plan should include two escape routes from each room in case the door is blocked by smoke or fire. Fire escape routes must be kept clear from clutter. Make sure all security bars (that block outside entry to your house) have quick release devices. All older family members should know how to open them. The fire escape plan should address the special needs of disabled children.

Practice the fire escape plan at least twice a year. Teach children to stay low to the floor, where air is safer, when escaping from a fire. Teach your child how to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes catch on fire. Pick a place that is safe and easy to remember outside your house where family members can meet after they escape. Teach them not to be afraid of firefighters in uniform.

When is it safe to use a fire extinguisher?

Fire extinguishers should be used cautiously and only for small, contained fires of known origin. Do not use a fire extinguisher if you do not know what is burning; if you might inhale toxic smoke; if you cannot position yourself with an exit or means of escape at your back; and/or your instincts tell you not to fight the fire.

Fighting a fire can be dangerous. About 37 percent of people injured in home fires are hurt trying to fight the fire.

How can I prevent home fires?

To prevent home fires, inspect your home often to look for fire hazards. Ask your local fire department if they can inspect your home.

Here are some ways you can prevent the leading causes of fires, fire injuries and deaths:

  • Cooking

    • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. Turn off the stove if you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time.
    • Stay in the home while food is cooking and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
    • Keep all items that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packages, paper, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
    • Never leave children alone near hot stoves.
  • Electrical

    • Keep electrical appliances and cords out of children's reach.
    • Place plastic safety covers over unused wall outlets and extension-cord plugs.
    • Avoid overloading outlets. (Plug only one high-wattage appliance into an electrical outlet at a time.)
  • Home Heating

    • Keep young children and pets away from space heaters and fireplaces.
    • Keep all flammable materials at least three feet away from heating sources.
  • Smoking Materials

    • Ask adults who smoke to do so outside your home and extinguish their smoking material and place it in an appropriate receptacle.
    • Keep matches and lighters away from children.

Is it safe to use fireworks at home?

Never use or let your children use fireworks. Sparklers cause most fireworks-related injuries in children.

How can I prevent my child from starting a home fire?

  • Guide your child to develop a responsible attitude towards fire and praise him/her for showing respect for fire.
  • Teach your child the basic facts about fire safety and about the dangers of fire, matches, and lighters. Children in this age range who start fires may not understand how dangerous fire can be. Most fires started by children involve a lighter, matches or other open flames.
  • Teach your child proper techniques for using fire and fire tools. Set a good example by using matches, lighters, and fire carefully.

Is it normal for a child to be interested in fire?

Yes. As children get older, their curiosity about fire often grows. Many children go through a phase where they experiment with fire and matches. Talk to your child about the dangers of playing with fire. Explain that fire is a tool for adults and is very dangerous for children.

Where can I find more information about fire safety?