how big is the problem of children playing with fire?

  • Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death to pre-school children, accounting for nearly 40% of all deaths in this age group (That’s two and one half times the second leading cause: cancer) (Source: CDC WISQARS 10/2015 using 2013 data)
  • Fire related deaths account for 1 in 8 (23.3%) unintentional injury deaths among preschool children ages 3 to 5 (Source: CDC WISQARS 10/2015 using 2013 data)
  • Children playing leads to 49,300 reported fires every year; 7,700 of these at home; 1 in 8 of these residential fires kills or injures someone (Source: NFPA Playing with Fire 3/2014)
  • Over 50% of all children experiment with matches or lighters by the time they reach age 13. (Source: Grolnick et al. 1991)

why do children play with matches and lighters? why are children so fascinated by fire?

Our research has shown that, contrary to popular opinion, most children:

  • Are very curious and play with fire at some point
  • Want to emulate their parents
  • Have surprisingly easy access to matches and lighters
  • Have no idea of the power of one match, what burns and how rapidly fire spreads
    *Source: Fireproof Children

what can parents do?

  • Keep matches and lighters out of sight and out of reach
  • Talk to their children saying matches and lighters are grown-up tools; if they find them they must come and tell a grown-up
  • Supervise preschool children carefully: know what they are doing at all times
  • Be absolutely certain to have a working smoke alarm on every level of the house
  • Develop and practice an exit plan: know what you will do in an emergency

interactive resources

The following are appropriate for a range of ages when children and their parents use them together. By clicking on the links, you will be leaving the play safe! be safe! website.

  • Help Mikey Make it Out

    Help Mikey Make it Out is an online and interactive game that works to educate children and families about what to do if they are awakened by a smoke alarm during the middle of the night, and to help Mikey make the right choices to make it out of his home safely. Help Mikey Make it Out is a Grand Winner in the Electronic and Video Publications category of the APEX Annual Awards for Publication Excellence, and is available as an online game and an app for iPhone and Android.
  • Mikey Makes a Mess

    Your children will love the the story about Mikey, a little boy who likes to leave his things exactly where he wants them–in the middle of the floor, much to his parents dismay. When Mikey’s daddy leaves out something he shouldn’t–a book of matches – both of them learn a good lesson on why there are some things that shouldn’t be left lying around. This online storybook can be read aloud in either English or Spanish.
  • Disaster Master

    Disaster Master is a series of illustrated stories that demonstrate what to do in the event of different emergency situations. Will you know what to do? Make the right decisions and earn points to unlock one of its eight levels. This interactive game is intended for older children.
  • Build a Kit

    Build a Kit is an interactive game that challenges players to select items from their bedroom to take with them in an emergency. The game evaluates the list and provides tips and feedback to the player. This game is designed for older elementary school children to play with their parents.
  • Danger Challenge

    Danger Challenge was designed by Rescue 1 Fire Safety For Kids, which challenges players to find all the danger spots in the pictures that are shown such as in the kitchen or in the bedroom. The game keeps track of the number of correctly selected hazards and also provides an answer key. As an additional activity, you have the option to print the uncolored illustrations off of your home computer for a fun coloring activity!
  • Sparky.org (NFPA)

    Sparky the Dog is a fire safety resource developed by the National Fire Protection Association that includes numerous games and activities for children and their families. The robust and dynamic website includes activities for the family – such as word searches, coloring pages and even origami – safety videos, as well as numerous games such as Sparky’s Eye For Safety, The Great Escape Fire Drill Challenge and Safe with Sparky! among others.
  • The Fire Marshal Challenge

    Based on the Jeopardy game show, The Fire Marshal Challenge was developed by the Minnesota State Fire Marshal to help educate individuals on fire safety. The interactive quiz covers a variety of topics including general fire safety, smoke alarms, cooking, and more.
  • Summer Safety Challenge

    Also developed by the Minnesota State Fire Marshal, Summer Safety Challenge is an interactive quiz game that is specific to fire safety in the summer months with categories such as firework safety, grilling safety, campfires and more.
  • Winter Safety Challenge

    Similar to its Summer Safety Challenge counterpart, Winter Safety Challenge is an interactive quiz game that is specific to fire safety in the winter months with categories such as holiday decorations carbon monoxide and more.

Since the program’s introduction in 1994, BIC Corporation, in cooperation with Fireproof Children, has distributed more than 114,000 kits, many of which are still in use, across the U.S. and Canada and has presented more than 180 workshops in all U.S. states, Puerto Rico and all Canadian provinces.

BIC Play Safe! Be Safe! - Fire Safety Education