Every year in Canada, approximately 1,300 fires are started by children playing with lighters and matches. These fires result in an average of 20 deaths, 150 burn injuries and $14 million in property damage. In Ontario juvenile fire setting accounts for over one-half of all arsons.
For many children, fire involvement is the result of natural curiosity about fire. For others, it is a symptom of other problems. In Windsor last year 14 children were referred to our TAPP-C (The Arson Prevention Program for Children) program.
The Arson Prevention Program for Children (TAPP-C) was developed in the early 1990’s as a joint venture between the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Office of the Fire Marshal of Ontario and the Toronto Fire Services to address fire setting behaviours by children and youth. TAPP-C is a collaborative program involving fire service and mental health professionals working together to eliminate dangerous fire-related behaviours by children and teens aged 2 to 17 and is used all over Ontario.
If you notice your child has an extreme interest in fire, matches and lighters go missing or are found among your child’s belongings, there are burn marks on household items or your child’s possessions, or you just have concerns contact Public Educator at 519-253-3016, ext. 3776.
What else can you do? Store matches and lighters out of sight and out of reach of children, in a locked cabinet. Ensure your family has smoke alarms installed outside sleeping areas and on all storeys of your home. Develop and practice a home fire escape plan.