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Experts Address Early Childhood Fire Safety

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Experts Address Early Childhood Fire Safety
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(File) Sparky The Fire Dog Plays With Children
(U.S. Air Force/Heather L. Rodgers)

Fire safety experts in Mississippi are trying to reduce the number of children dying by fires. In 2018, seven children died in fires in Mississippi according to the State Fire Marshal's Office. MPB's Jasmine Ellis reports on what adults can do to address fire and lighter safety with children.

First responders, educators, and nonprofit leaders say it's important that children learn about fire safety early. Jerry Whirley is president of the Mississippi Association of Public Fire Safety Educators. He says one child dying by fire is one too many. Whirley says while children playing near heaters can cause fires in the winter, there are also hazards that can cause fires in the spring and summer.

"Spring and summer it can be anything from the foliage outside," said Whirley. "Children see the parents lighting leaves with lighters or stuff like that. They'll watch them where they put that lighter... or even the barbeque grill. They'll see that lighter."

Whirley says adults should continuously talk to children about fire safety and practice what to do in case of an emergency.

"Make sure you do what we call E.D.I.T.H., Exit Drills In The Home," said Whirley. "Show two ways out of every room. Have a meeting place outside for when something does happen. Because if you have that meeting place and the parents go to that meeting place, and the children are not there the first thing they think is they're inside. Stress the importance of not to go back in and get anything."

Each year, in the U.S., about 50,000 fires are started by children playing says Molly Clifford. She is executive director of Fireproof Children. She says there are precautions that parents can take to prevent fires from happening in the home.

"Really a key strategy for parents is to keep lighters and matches out of sight and out of reach," said Clifford. "Hopefully, parents do not have many lighters or matches at home to begin with. But when they do to keep them out of sight and out of reach.... stored securely."

Statistics show that over 50 percent of all children experiment with matches or lighters by the time they reach age 13.