Pam watches with delight as her cake is brought into the room, topped by four glowing candles. Family and friends sing “Happy Birthday.” She makes a wish and easily blows out all the candles. Everyone applauds.
At the age of four, Pam has already learned a lot about fire, at least as she has experienced it in those birthday candles. She’s learned that fire is fun, friendly – and easily controlled. Unfortunately those beliefs, combined with a few unsupervised minutes and matches left within her reach, could lead to tragedy.
No one would want to take away Pam’s delight in her birthday candles, or in the many pleasant family activities that involve fire – camping, barbecuing, cooking and religious ceremonies. But we do need to teach children, including very young children, that fire is an adult tool. And we need to teach them the life safety skills that can save their lives in a fire.
Fireproof Children in Rochester, New York has been working on the problem of juvenile firesetting for nearly 20 years. The following suggestions for teaching fire safety to young children are based on extensive research we have conducted and successful intervention and educational programs we developed, working with the Rochester Fire Department and BIC Corporation.