There is an innate fascinations between humans and fire. Unfortunately, this fascination can occur at a young age, especially when children have access to matches. Children playing with fire is the leading cause of fire deaths for young children, according to the Burn Institute.
Physical injury is typically the first worry with kids who are playing with matches, with burns being the greatest worry. Burns can be mild, such as when a child touches the match head after blowing it out or while it's still lit. But burns can also be more serious, and even life threatening, if a child lights themselves or others around them on fire. Three out of every ten preschool deaths from fire are caused by children playing with fire, notes the Burn Institute.
House fires are another concern for children who chose to play with matches indoors. House fires can easily occur if a match--even a recently blown-out match--comes into contact with a flammable item such as clothing, carpets, newspapers or draperies. House fires have the unique disadvantage of trapping people inside, which can lead to burning deaths, or deaths from smoke inhalation.
Most fires that are started with children playing with fire through matches or lighters occur outside, according to the NFPA. Unfortunately, in dry or windy conditions a small outdoor fire can quickly turn into a large-scale fire, especially if near dry brush fields or forests. To make matters worse, children playing with matches are often not equipped with the knowledge or ability to put out a fire while it's still small enough to be contained and may also not report the fire to avoid getting into trouble, which may delay action on putting the fire out.
Open communication with your child is one of the most important factors in preventing them from playing with matches. Children should be taught from an early age that matches and lighters are not toys, and that they should only be used or handled by adults. As the child grows old enough to use matches, teach them how to use them appropriately, and how to dispose of the match once blown out. To take prevention a step further, matches and lighters should never be kept out in the open or in areas that are easily seen and accessible to children. This will help prevent curiosity from getting the best of your child or your child's friends.
Chris Sherwood is a professional journalist who after years in the health administration field and writing health and wellness articles turned towards organic sustainable gardening and food education. He now owns and operates an organic-method small farm focusing his research and writing on both organic gardening methods and hydroponics.