A Message from the State Fire Marshal

Division of State Fire Marshal Encourages Fire Safety for Children, Particularly Under Age Five

The Division of State Fire Marshal urges parents and guardians to take precautionary measures to avoid unnecessary fire fatalities, particularly related to children age five and under. Last year in Ohio, 20 of the 26 children who lost their lives in fires were under the age of five.

"In the event of a fire, children age five and below are almost entirely dependent on outside help in order to survive," said Interim Fire Marshal Donald Cooper. "Since many fatal fires occur at night while families are asleep, parents and guardians must be prepared by establishing a home fire escape plan and teaching their young ones what to do if a fire should occur."

Escaping from a fire - especially at night - can be very difficult for young children due to their age, level of understanding, and fear in a traumatic setting.

According to the United States Fire Administration, more than half of all child fire deaths occur to children under the age of five. Unfortunately, the percentage of fire deaths for Ohio children last year under the age of five was significantly higher than the national rate.

Parents and guardians can prevent fire fatalities by following the safety and prevention tips below:

  • Develop and practice a home fire escape plan and designate a meeting place outside. Get out and stay out!
  • Familiarize children with the sound of your smoke alarm.
  • Show children how to crawl low on the floor, below the smoke, to get out of the house and stay out.
  • Teach children not to hide from firefighters, but to get out quickly and wait at the designated meeting place.
  • Teach children how to stop, drop to the ground, and roll if clothes catch fire.
  • Always dress children in pajamas that meet Federal flammability standards. Avoid dressing children for sleep in loose-fitting, 100% cotton garments, such as oversized t-shirts.
  • Keep matches, lighters and other items used for ignition in a secured drawer or cabinet out of the reach of children.
  • Teach your children to tell you when they find matches and lighters.
  • Check under beds and in closets for burnt matches, clothes, paper and toys. This can be evidence that your child may be playing with fire.
  • Teach children to check the door of their bedroom. When it is hot, they should leave it closed and go to a window to signal for help.

A complete list of fire safety tips (PDF) can be found on the Division of State Fire Marshal's website.

While you are thinking fire safety, take the time to test your smoke detectors. If you have not already changed the batteries, do it now. Also, dust or vacuum around the detector and replace any that are 10 years old or older. Finally, review your home fire escape plan and make certain every family member has two ways out of the home and knows the outside meeting location.