BEND, Ore. -

As the school year comes to a close, the cry “I’m bored!” will begin to be heard throughout Central Oregon.  Curiosity and boredom, combined with a lack of direct supervision, can often lead to youth misusing fire.

In fact, according to the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal, fire incidents involving youth peak during the months of June, July, and August.

Whether it is a young child who acts out of curiosity, or a teenager who imitates what he sees on You Tube, this behavior is risky. 

Children and teens who do not understand the power and speed of fire can cause serious damage, injury, or even death. 

Although the majority of fires are started by youth between the ages of 10 and 15, there have been children as young as 3 years old who have started fires. 

Parents can be held financially responsible for any property damage or injuries resulting from a fire started by their child.  Adolescents can be charged criminally for their actions. 

Keep your family safe by following these tips:

  • Keep matches and lighters up out of sight and reach of children.
  • Teach children that matches and lighters are tools to be used by adults, NEVER toys to be played with by children.
  • Be a good role model – avoid modeling fire play that children may imitate.
  • For teens, teach them that there are serious legal and financial consequences for starting a fire, including being cited or even arrested for the offense.
  • Keep youth of all ages busy and well supervised – there are many summer programs available throughout the area.

If your child starts a fire, or appears to have a fascination with fire, don’t simply dismiss the behavior as “normal curiosity”.  Many fire departments have trained personnel who can help when a youth misuses fire, and it is a FREE service.  Call the fire agency in your area for more information.