A Match Is A Tool
Children must be taught the proper function and safe use of matches
- A tool has a specific purpose and should be used only for that
- Teach your children that the match is a tool for adults and has a
specific purpose, such as lighting candles, starting a campfire or lighting a fire in a
- In general, the average age to begin the "Match is a Tool"
education is about five. However, parents should determine when their individual child is
- For young children, keep matches out of their reach. This includes
cigarette lighters and related items. The wooden "strike anywhere" kitchen match
should NOT be used or kept in homes where young children are present.
- For older children, parents should agree to let their children strike
matches and use fire when appropriate, but only in the presence of a parent or responsible
adult and under safe conditions.
- Many fireplay (match play) problems can be solved simply by having
the child promise to use fire and matches ONLY in the presence of the parents, and by the
parents agreeing to allow the child to use matches when appropriate.
- Fire has an important and necessary role in our lives. The earlier a
person learns the proper and safe use of fire, the less likely there will be a desire to
"play" with matches and fire.
The proper use of fire includes teaching the safe way to light
matches. The following teaching sequence is suggested.
- Open package and remove match. (Use only the paper match.)
- Close package.
- Turn package over to the side with the striking surface.
- Hold match in proper position and strike away from the body.
- Hold match in horizontal position (after ignited) for 2-3 seconds.
- Blow out flame and wait until match is cool to touch (5-10 seconds).
- Repeat sequence.
Most children, at one time or another, express an interest in fire.
Some children simply watch, but others may try to experiment. This interest is normal and
healthy, but it must be carefully guided in order to prevent a tragedy. The statement,
"Don't play with matches," gives the child no positive information and does not
explain the safe use of matches.
A child's curiosity is generally what causes him to play with
matches. This curiosity must be guided by the parents demonstrating the proper and safe
use of matches and by letting the child strike matches under supervision. Allow the child
to strike matches under a parent's supervision until he or she does not want to strike any
more. Then establish the child-parent agreement to allow the child to strike matches in
the future, but ONLY under the parent's supervision.
- You, as a parent, must set a good example in your use of fire. If you
follow safe practices, your children will do the same.
- Develop a HOME FIRE ESCAPE PLAN and use SMOKE DETECTORS to encourage
fire safety awareness. Giving your children responsibilities in home fire safety will
encourage a positive attitude toward fire and will discourage misuse of fire and matches.
- Cigarette lighters: The use of child-resistant lighters will help
reduce the risk to young children; however, these lighters should still be locked up or
kept out of the reach of children.
- Parents must avoid using a cigarette lighter as a "toy" to
pacify a child who is crying or causing a disturbance. This causes the "tool" to
become a "toy" in the child's eyes, and could result in a child starting a
serious fire or being severely injured. Matches and lighters are tools for adults.
- Young children should be instructed to leave matches and lighters
alone. If they should find matches or a lighter, they should tell a parent or other
caregiver, rather than bring the matches or lighter to the adult (especially for children
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