Shelton Fire Department members are preparing for annual fire safety visits to daycare centers and pre-kindergarten classes in October.
The program focuses on teaching an estimated 1,200 young children to stay away from “hot tools,” or things that only grown-ups use. This includes items that get hot or have an open flame.
Firefighters will instruct children to tell a grown-up if they see matches or lighters so these items will be properly stored out of reach. Each child will be given a fire helmet and a parent-child learning activities book, “I Can Be Fire Safe,” to bring home.
The book presents children with easy-to-follow information on preventing fires as well as fun activities that reinforce learning. It also includes a four-page section for parents and guardians that provides home and family fire-safety tips.
The Shelton Fire Department consists of members ofrom the Echo Hose, Huntington, Pine Rock Park, and White Hills volunteer fire companies.
Children and fire
Children and fire are a deadly combination. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that between 2007 and 2011, an average of 49,300 fires per year that involved playing with fire were reported to U.S. municipal fire departments.
These fires caused annual averages of 80 civilian deaths, 860 civilian injuries, and $235 million in property damage.
Lighters were the heat source in just over half (52%) of fires in homes involving play. In addition, 39% of home fires involving play began in a bedroom.
The NFPA has found that some children play with fire out of curiosity, not realizing its danger. Troubled children may set a fire as a way of acting out their anger, disappointment, or frustration.
Preschoolers and kindergartners are most likely to start these fires, typically by playing with matches and lighters, and are most likely to die in them.
Children’s interest in fire
Children experience fire interest. They may ask questions such as how hot is fire or show an interest in fire through playing with fire trucks or cooking on a play stove.
This is healthy, and is an opportunity to begin educating about fire, said Ted Pisciotta, Shelton assistant chief of fire prevention.
Many fires happen when young children are left alone, even for a short period of time, and have access to matches and lighters. Parents and caretakers must have clear rules and consequences about fire misuse.
Learn more by going to the Fire Prevention Bureau website by clicking on “Public Safety” at www.cityofshelton.org. Easy-to-print fire safety tips are available.