Curiosity about fire is natural. Most children will, at some time in their youth, explore the element. Unfortunately, fires set by children can have devastating consequences. It doesn’t matter if the fire is set with intent (arson), or if it is unintentional (curiosity), the unfortunate end result can be the same. When youth misuse fire, adults should pay attention to the behavior and call for help.
The Anchorage Fire Department works with The Alaska Injury Prevention Center to provide an intervention program to help families. Fire Stoppers can:
- Help parents understand why a child is misusing fire
- Help families create a safe environment
- Provide education for the entire family to help mitigate the behavior
- Recommend other resources helpful in correcting the behavior
Fire Stoppers works hand in hand with many agencies and professionals in Anchorage. If a family needs assistance beyond education, Fire Stoppers can recommend other resources for families.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep our community safe from fire. If you know a child or youth that misuses fire, contact the Fire Stoppers hotline at 346-2888
Here are some tips to keep your family safe from youth-set fires:
Teach your children they are responsible for their own safety. Adults are ultimately responsible for the safety of our children, but children can begin to learn at an early age that they are responsible for the choices they make to keep them safe.
Children today often believe that they are not responsible for their own safety. Many children believe that adults should keep them safe. Children need to begin to be taught they have the power within them to make safe choices.
Try not to assign children any responsibility that includes lighting fires unless they are being supervised by an adult. Although children need to learn to handle tools as they grow older, make sure they are ready for the responsibility. The age of learning to use adult tools differs for every kid. Seldom are they ready before the age of eleven. Try not to give them responsibility for dangerous items too early.
Lock up all matches, lighters, and BBQ lighters! Treat fire tools like you would a loaded gun. Lock them up. A loaded lighter or match can do as much or more damage than a loaded gun. Tools are necessary in our world. They all have their place in our lives. Our job as adults is to keep dangerous tools away from children until they are ready to be around them safely.
Closely supervise your children! As adults, we are responsible for what our children do. The best defense against children getting into any kind of trouble is to know where they are, what they’re doing, and who they’re with at all times. In today’s world, that can be hard, but it’s always worth it in the end.
Teach your children why fire tools are so dangerous. Children need to know that dangerous tools are off limits. That includes fire. But they also need to know why. Pay attention to the movies and video games they watch. Take the time to watch for unrealistic things. The media often shows fire as something that really can’t hurt you. Use those opportunities in the media to teach children what’s real and what’s not real.
Role model only safe practices with fire! Children will always do what we do and not what we say. Little eyes are always watching us!
- Keep fire tools away from children!
- Know where your children are!
- Know what your children are doing!
- Keep your smoke alarms working…always!
- Develop and practice a home escape plan!
- Remove fire hazards from your home!
- Teach everyone to treat a burn with cool water!
Let’s protect our kids and our communities from fire!