Fire Remains a Leading Cause of Death for Children Ages 14 and Under


(10/04/10) – As the weather starts to turn colder, the risk of fires increases significantly. Nationwide, 457 children ages 14 and under died in 2007 due to unintentional fire- and burn-related injuries, and approximately 96,756 more were injured.
"Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With" is the theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week, which runs October 3 – 9, 2010. Safe Kids is joining the National Fire Protection Association to urge families to focus on smoke alarms, as well as take active measures to help prevent fires in their homes. Approximately 80 percent of all fire-related deaths and injuries occur in the home, and young children are at a particularly high risk because they don’t perceive danger as readily and can lack the ability to escape a life-threatening fire situation.

"Having a working smoke alarm reduces a person’s chances of dying in a fire by nearly half," said Erin Faile, Safe Kids Florence Coordinator. "We recommend that all parents and caregivers make sure they have a working smoke alarm on every level of the home, outside every sleeping area, and in each bedroom. Installing these important safety devices could save the life of a loved one in case of an emergency."

Important fire and burn safety tips for parents:

• Keep matches, gasoline, lighters and all other flammable materials locked away and out of children’s reach.

• Keep children away from cooking and heating appliances, and never leave the kitchen while you are cooking. Use back burners and turn pot handles to the back of the stove when cooking.

• Never leave a burning candle unattended. Place candles in a safe location away from combustible materials and where children or pets cannot tip them over.

• Place space heaters at least 3 feet from curtains, papers, furniture, and other flammable materials. Always turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

• Test all smoke alarms every month and change the batteries once a year, even if they are hard-wired. Smoke alarms are also available with 10-year lithium batteries.

• Consider a home sprinkler system. The combination of smoke alarms and sprinklers can reduce your chances of dying in a fire by 82 percent.

• Set your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Consider installing water faucets and shower heads containing anti-scald technology.

"In an average lifetime, a person will be injured by fire in one out of every ten households," said Lindsey Griffin, Injury Prevention Specialist for Safe Kids Florence. "To prepare for an emergency, parents should plan several escape routes out of their home and then designate a safe place to meet. Then, practice with your kids so they know exactly what to do. Also, teach children never to go back into a burning building, and to call 911 from a neighbor’s home or a cell phone outside."

NFPA has organized National Fire Prevention Week annually since 1922. For more details, visit For more information about fire safety for children and families, as well as helpful tips and videos, call Safe Kids Florence, led by McLeod Health, at (843) 777-5021 or visit

Safe Kids Florence, led by McLeod Health, works to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14. Its members include the Florence Country Sheriff’s Department, the City of Florence Police Department, the South Carolina Highway Patrol, and the City of Florence Fire Department. Safe Kids Florence is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing unintentional injury. Safe Kids Florence was founded in 1995, is led by McLeod Health, and is funded in part by the McLeod Foundation.