play safe! in Action: Kathi Osmonson, Minnesota State Fire Marshal Office

Kathi Osmonson has been helping educate young children about fire safety and prevention since 1998. She is certified by the National Fire Academy as a Juvenile Fire-Setter Intervention Specialist and established Youth Firesetting Intervention Teams (YFIT) in 10 regions across the state.

Over the course of her career, Osmonson’s preferred tool to educate and engage children is the play safe! be safe!® Keep Away!® Card Game. The game is designed to sensitize children to the hazards associated with fire while helping to develop their visual memory skills. Osmonson uses the Keep Away! game with children up to 10 years old, and occasionally even with young teenagers.

“Actually, many of the parents enjoy it too,” she says. “It’s great because families can play the game together.”

Parents can also play the game with their children. Click here to play.

Osmonson has distributed several hundred packs of the card game to her intervention specialists for use in the Minnesota Youth Firesetting Prevention and Intervention Program. Youth are referred to this statewide program by parents, schools, fire departments, and social workers concerned about firesetting behavior in children.

Osmonson’s next project is distributing a letter to the courts to make them aware of the Program: “We want the justice system to know there are other options for dealing with kids who have been involved with fire than just putting them on probation.”

Minnesota parents, teachers and others concerned about a child who might be misusing fire can call the Youth Firesetting Hotline at 1-800-500-8897 to be directed to a local team.