Healthy Kids    

Does Your Family Have Fire Safety Smarts?

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) estimates that every holiday season, there are more than 1,200 fires and 190 fire-related injuries associated with improper holiday tree and candle care.

To help keep parents informed, and kids safe, child psychologist Steven Barreto, PhD, with Bradley Hospital offers the following tips for fire safety:

* Talk about fire safety with your children.

As parents and children spend holiday vacation time together, now is a great time to educate your children about fire safety. If you have a fireplace or use candles, take a moment to explain to your children about the safe use of fire, reminding them never to use matches or lighters without adult supervision and about how quickly even a small fire can spread.

* Practice fire safety at home.

Teach children to recognize the sound of the smoke alarm and practice a home fire escape plan. This can be a fun family activity - kids love to "stop, drop and roll," and to crawl low to the ground pretending to be underneath smoke.

* Keep track of incendiaries.

During this busy and festive season, keep track of matches and lighters and always keep them locked or out of reach of children.

* Stay alert for warning signs.

All children are interested in fire, but know the signs that your child may have a problem with fire. Be on the lookout for excessive interest in fire in children such as: being intensely fascinated or curious about fire or in stories about fire; burn marks on rugs or in their rooms or matches hidden under mattresses.

In addition, the USFA recommends that parents check the labels of bed clothing and coverings to make sure that they meet federal flammability standards, that holiday trees are placed away from fireplaces or a heating vent, and that parents take extra care to protect children by avoiding lighting candles or placing them where they cannot be knocked over. (

Dr. Barreto is co-director of Bradley Hospital's fire prevention program, FireSafe Families, a family-centered program that provides fire safety education and group counseling to children and adolescents who are at risk of setting fires. The program also educates the parents and guardians of at-risk children. FireSafe Families' education and group counseling is offered at no charge to children and their families.

Founded in 1931, Bradley Hospital ( was the nation's first psychiatric hospital operating exclusively for children. Today, it remains a premier medical institution devoted to the research and treatment of childhood psychiatric illnesses. Bradley Hospital, located in Providence, RI, is a teaching hospital for Brown Medical School and ranks in the top third of private hospitals receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health. Its research arm, the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center (BHCRC), brings together leading researchers in such topics as: autism, colic, childhood sleep patterns, HIV prevention, infant development, obesity, eating disorders, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and juvenile firesetting. Bradley Hospital is a member of the Lifespan health system.