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Children Face Greatest Threat in Home Fires

National Preparedness Month
Follow Red Cross advice to help keep your kids safe from home fires.

Home fires are the biggest disaster threat for people in the U.S., and young children are the most at risk.

Children under the age of five face the greatest threat of being fatally injured in a home fire. During Fire Prevention Month, the American Red Cross offers steps you can take to protect your children.

HIDE THE MATCHES, LIGHTERS Children playing with matches or lighters are the cause of about two-thirds of fires involving youngsters. More than half of these fires start in a bedroom, and bedding is most often the first thing in the room to catch fire.

Kids also can start fires by playing with candles, fireworks, cigarettes and stoves. Keep matches, lighters and other ignitable substances in a secured location out of the reach of children, and only use lighters with child-resistant features. Kids should be taught to tell a parent or a responsible adult when they find matches or lighters at home or school.

AN ESCAPE PLAN You should develop a fire escape plan and practice it with your children several times a year. Also make sure to practice “stop, drop and roll” and low crawling with your kids.

Other steps you can take to ensure your children’s safety include:

  • Familiarize kids with the sound of the smoke alarm and what to do when they hear it.
  • Teach children not to be afraid of firefighters. Take them to the local fire department to meet them and learn about fire safety.
  • Smoke alarms save lives. Install a smoke alarm near the kitchen, on each level of the home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year. Having a working smoke alarm reduces the risk of dying in a home fire by nearly half.
  • To learn how to prevent a fire in the home and how to keep members of your household safe, download The Red Cross Fire Prevention and Safety Checklist. Check out our website for more information on home fire safety.

    Tags: Fire, Safety.
    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.