July 2, 2012 -
Cassandra Null was just 5 years old when she received burns to her left arm, torso, face and legs from a fire that she started. Null says, "I was very fortunate, they told me 30 more seconds and I would have no hair, no facial features stuff like that." Fires set by children account for approximately 250 thousand fires per year and are the second leading cause of all fatal home accidents. According to Null, "my parents were actually smokers and, they told me I was up in the middle of the night and I just found the lighter and I started playing with it, and just by a spark caught on to my pajamas because they were not flammable resistant and they went up."
Many lighters are now being made to look like toys so it's important for parents to supervise children and be aware of their surroundings. According to experts, children start half of all fires and most of those fires are started by children under the age of 10. One way to prevent this from happening to your children is to keep matches of lighters out of reach. Tips to prevent fires in your home include:
- Regularly check your home for fire hazards such as frayed electrical cords and flammable items that are left too close to heat sources
- Install and maintain working smoke alarms
- Plan and practice home fire escape drills
Lieutenant Mike Bellamy, with the Tallahassee Fire Department says, “education is so important in fire prevention. We know that children set fires mostly because of curiosity and if can speak to our children about when they find matches or find a lighter to give those to an adult."
At 21 years old, Cassandra is still going through the process of being a burn survivor, however, she is putting her experience to good use. She says, “now, because I was burned I can help other children that have been burned. I can relate to other kids." Although her journey has been painful, Cassandra has big plans for her future she admits "I actually just got my first responder and I plan on going into the EMS program to be a paramedic and an RN."
For more information on safety tips and programs that TFD provides go to www.talgov.com/fire