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We are sacrificing our children to fire.

We are sacrificing our children to fire.

Recently released Fire Service statistics show that nine New Zealand children died by fire during 2001/02, double the number for the past two years.

Most of these children were pre-schoolers, the youngest just 23 months, and all died between 10 pm and 7 am, so were probably asleep. Only one of the fatalities involved any action on the part of the child.

Unattended cooking fires, matches, candles or lighters were the main causes of the fatal fires, along with a failure in a toaster, arcing from a multi-plug box and a child playing with a lighter.

Fire Service director of research Paula Beever says the sudden upsurge in child fire fatalities is worrying.

¡§Each death tells a story we are hearing all too often. Our children are dying because adults leave cooking unattended, because multi-plug boxes are overloaded or lighters, matches or candles are left burning while an adult falls asleep.

¡§Our plea to parents and families is don¡¦t sacrifice your children for the want of a few simple safeguards.¡¨

The latest initiative in home fire safety is an affordable home sprinkler system. The Fire Service this week demonstrated the effectiveness of sprinklers for homes as part of its latest initiative to save lives.(Images of the demonstration are available)

Bedrooms in two Auckland houses were set on fire, one with a sprinkler system and one without. The sprinkler doused the fire in a minute-and-a-half while the other home was destroyed within three minutes.

Sprinklers can be installed in new homes for the cost of a home appliance, and can be retro-fitted.

¡§Installing a sprinkler system in your home will save your children¡¦s lives.¡¨

Other safety reminders are:

„h Never leave your cooking unattended

„h Never try to cook while intoxicated

„h Put out candles before you go to sleep or leave a room

„h Don¡¦t allow children to play with candles or lighters

„h Have a home escape plan in the case of fire

„h Install smoke alarms in every hallway, bedroom and living area and on every level of your home

„h Don¡¦t overload power points or multi-plug boxes

Details of the child fatalities are included here. The full Emergency Incident Statistics July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2002 is available on the Fire Service website www.fire.org.nz

Child fatalities 2001/02: male 23mths Invercargill 11/5/02 unattended cooking fire male 3yrs Timaru 1/8/01 autocontrol failure in toaster male 3yrs Addington 1/2/02 Falling asleep - lighter/match/candle (unconfirmed) female 4yrs Pahiatua 9/12/01 unattended kitchen cooking fire female 4yrs Addington 1/2/02 Falling asleep - lighter/match/candle (unconfirmed) male 4yrs Otahuhu 20/5/02 Children playing with lighter (unconfirmed) female 5yrs Granity 1/11/01 arcing from multi-plug box male 6yrs Rotorua 28/11/01 kitchen fire -unknown cause (unconfirmed) male 8yrs Kohukohu 5/8/01 Falling asleep -lighter/match/candle

„h Unconfirmed means the Coroner's report is pending.

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