Children playing with fire

Safety Tip

Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and sight, up high, preferably in a locked cabinet.

Read all of NFPA's tips for parents about children playing with fire.

Between 2007 and 2011, an average of 49,300 fires involving playing with fire were reported to U.S. municipal fire departments per year. These fires caused annual averages of 80 civilian deaths, 860 civilian injuries, and $235 million in property damage.

Facts & figures

  • Younger children were more likely to set fires in homes, while older children and teenagers are more likely to set fires outside
  • Males were are more likely to engage in fire-play than females, as 83% of  home structure fires and 93% of outside or unclassified fires were set by boys when age was coded as a factor
  • Lighters were the heat source in just over half (52%) of fires in homes
    involving play
  • 39% of home fires involving play began in a bedroom


Video: Children playing with fire cause hundreds of deaths and injuries each year.  NFPA's Lisa Braxton talks about how clear rules and consequences must be established for children about fire misuse.

Source: NFPA's "Children Playing with Fire" report by Ben Evarts, November 2011.

Also see: Fact sheet on children and fire. (PDF, 32 KB)

In This Section
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