Fire Remains A Leading Cause Of Death For Children Ages 14 And Under

As the weather starts to turn colder, the risk of fires increases. Approximately 500 children die every year in the US due to fire and burn related injuries, and thousands are injured.

Prevent Kitchen Fires” is the theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week, which runs from Oct. 6th to the 12th. 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 higher risk because they 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. 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, 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, one in ten households will have a person injured in a fire. 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 the fire department 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, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.