Back to School means After School Cooking Safety

We’ve all heard the old adage “while the cat’s away, the mice will play.” That saying certainly applies to the relationship between parents and children during the summer months, particularly in homes where both parents work.  It’s a fear that all parents must share when they leave their young ones at home for long stretches of the day, and have to rely on trust and education to ensure that they don’t receive an unwelcome phone call from the fire department during their workday.

Statistically, residential fires that are started by children are most common in the month of July, and specifically during the afternoon hours, according to the latest statistics from the NFPA. In their report “Home Fires Started by Playing – 2011″ the NFPA outlines some of the specifics tied directly to children playing with fire and the resulting damage and death that has occurred.

Night Inferno

In 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 6,700 home structure fires that were started by someone, usually a child, playing with fire. These fires caused:

  • 40 civilian deaths,
  • 740 civilian injuries, and
  • $165 million in direct property damage. 

In case you were wondering, cigarette lighters accounted for 50% of all these fires, and matches made up another 19%.

But now as we sit at the end of summer vacation, and we prepare for our children to go back to school, does the danger necessarily diminish? Most kids who return home from school prior to their parents returning home from work, a.k.a. latchkey kids, will return home hungry and ready to prepare an afternoon snack. Are your children properly trained in the operation of the stove? Would you feel comfortable knowing that your children are cooking food while you were away?

The NFPA doesn’t currently provide data on this subcategory of residential fires, but it is certainly something to think about as the summer winds down, and that afternoon snack of mac & cheese is being prepared by your cute little “mice” while the cat’s away.