Over the weekend an Opotiki man was badly burned in a house fire started by a child playing with a lighter.
Fire Service National Manager Fire Investigation and Arson Reduction Peter Wilding said in the last three months there have been several very serious fires that were all started by children under five years old.
Three homes, in Timaru, Tokoroa and Wairaki were gutted, he said.
“Some children treat lighters and matches as toys and are fascinated by the sparks and flame. No lighter is completely child-safe. The only way to protect your children, your families and your homes safe from these fires is to keep lighters out of reach of young ones."
"Leaving lighters or matches within reach of kids is like giving them a loaded gun" said Mr Wilding. Put matches and lighters up on a shelf, out of the reach of children, or carry them with you. Teach children to bring you any matches and lighters they find. Make sure your smoke alarms are working.”
Mr Wilding said as winter approaches it is even more important that parents and other adults make sure they take responsibility for keeping matches and lighters away from children.
He is also concerned that some retailers are selling lighters that are not compliant with the child safety legislation.
“I have gone into several variety shops recently and three out of five lighters did not meet our child-safety standards.”
He said he is working with Consumer Affairs and will be taking the issue up with importers..
The Fire Service offers a free intervention programme for children who show worrying fire-lighting behaviour. Anyone wanting help can contact the Fire Service on 0800 FIRE INFO for more information.
Consumer information here
Contact: Peter Wilding 09 354-5120