Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products. Fire is intriguing and therefore something that will attract a curious child from an early age.
In 2010, the United States fire department responded to 44,900 fires started by someone, usually a child, playing with fire. These fires caused 90 civilian deaths, 890 civilian injuries, and $210 million in direct property damage. Preschoolers and kindergartners are most likely to start these fires, while playing with matches or lighters and most likely to die in these fires. Most fire-play fires (77%) started outside, but most associated deaths (97%) were in home structure fires. Almost half (46%) of people who start reported home fires by playing were 5 years old or younger. Two out of five (40%) child-playing home structure fires began in the bedroom. Mattresses and bedding were the items first ignited in 24% of child-playing home structure fires and 29% of associated civilian fire deaths.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Merrick, Joav; Howell Bowling, Carrie; and Omar, Hatim A., "Firesetting in Childhood and Adolescence" (2013). Pediatrics Faculty Publications. 49.