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Accident prevention advice for fires involving children

Accident prevention advice for fires involving children


Prevention is a key factor when it comes to avoiding accidents, especially in the case of children. Today we're going to talk about fires and how to avoid them. The fact is that 4.2% of fatalities from fires in 2015 were among children aged under 14; in other words, in 2015 a total of six children under the age of 14 lost their lives as the result of a fire.

The report "Fire Victims in Spain 2015" (Spanish), drawn up by Fundación MAPFRE in collaboration with the Professional Firefighters' Association, states that in 2015 there were a total of 143 fatalities from fires or explosions, 11.7% fewer than the previous year.

When it comes to children, 4.2% of these fatalities were under 14 years of age. This is a figure of 0.85 per million inhabitants and 0.69 in the case of teens between 15 and 19. In this case, 3.5% of the fatalities were in this age group (five children).

To be even more specific, the report states that the index per million inhabitants of fatalities from fire or explosions in children under the age of four in 2015 was 1.79. From ages 5 to 9, this figure was 0.81; from 10 to 14 year old, the figure was zero; and from 15 to 19 it was 0.46.

We should bear in mind that most of these fire-related deaths were attributable to smoke inhalation rather than burns.

Prevention advice

Accidents that cause burns are the fourth cause of violent death among children and are particularly common in the 12-24 month age group. However, heat burns are more common in the age bracket of children aged 3 to 6 years old. The "Parents' Guide to the Prevention of Accidental Injuries in Children" (Spanish), by Fundación MAPFRE, offers a series of recommendations to avoid the main causes of these injuries in children.

  • Children lack sufficient preparation and experience to deal with hazards themselves. For this reason, parents, teachers and other educators in general are responsible for protecting them and making sure the right safety measures are used.
  • Be sure to affix special safety devices to all electrical sockets in the home. You should also avoid handling any potentially dangerous objects in front of a child, as they may want to copy the way you handle a socket or wiring.
  • Cigarette lighters and matches are particularly appealing to children. Avoid using them in front of children and make sure they are kept in a safe place out of their reach. The same applies to flammable liquids.
  • Take particular care over lit cigarettes and candles. These must be kept away from children and also from pets, as they could knock them over.
  • Take extreme care when it comes to bangers, sparklers and other fireworks.
  • We strongly recommend the installation of smoke detectors. It has been shown that houses with smoke detectors experience half the number of fire-related injuries and fatalities than those without them.
  • Butane gas canisters must always be kept outside the home. The ones used in the kitchen must be equipped with a safety device in a good condition. After cooking, always turn off the main switch.
  • Parents and teachers should teach children how to prevent these kinds of accidents and what action to take if they occur: they should know what to do in the case of fire, how to get out of a building, how to prevent fires from starting, what elements are hazardous, how to use a fire extinguisher (in the case of older children), etc.

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