It’s all over the news and these reports say it best ….
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Novelty cigarette lighters made to look like toys have state fire officials concerned the item might fall into the wrong, tiny hands. The lighters are made for adults, but state fire officials said they look like toys a child would play with.
“The last thing you want is some kid in his closet lighting this [lighter], or under his bed, or out in back of the barn playing with this, because nothing but tragedy can occur,” Cal Fire Prevention Chief David Hillman said.
Last year, two Arkansas toddlers died while playing with a novelty lighter made to look like a motorcycle.
State fire officials have stopped short of seeking a statewide ban, and instead are focusing on educating parents and retailers about the dangers of the lighters.
Parent Bobby Calderon, meanwhile, said he usually sees novelty lighters placed in the worst spots at stores.
“They’re right at the counter, right at the edge, usually candy next to it,” Calderon said.
One distributer of the novelty lighters said they would oppose a ban on lighters because the government already regulates and tests lighters to be child restraint.
PITTSBURGH – There’s a local push for a ban on novelty lighters. Fire investigators in Pittsburgh said children might think the lighters are toys, play with them and accidentally start fires.
Each year, children start 35,000 fires. About 8,000 of those fires are at home and 15 to 20 percent of all fire deaths are children.
A blaze in Pittsburgh Larimer section last year was started by two 8-year-olds playing with matches. Five children died as a result.
Juveniles in Allegheny County started a total of 35 fires last year, police said.
“We’re finding out in our investigations that there have been one, two, three, four incidents in the past with these kids playing with lighters and matches,” said detective Michael Burns of the Pittsburgh Police Department.
And the circumstances are not always accidental.
“Some of the ones we had, they got mad at their brothers and sisters and set their beds on fire, set their toys on fire,” said Burns. “Some of it is out of curiosity.”
Now, police said, children have a new temptation to play with lighters. Novelty lighters that look like toys have killed dozens of children in other cities.
The city’s Department of Public Safety wants to ban novelty lighters before local children are added to the fatality list. The department has the backing of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
“Something we’re trying to stop on a federal level, to not sell items like this that look like a John Deer tractor,” said Henry Glogowski of CPS.
Other states have successfully banned the lighters in major cities. Some states issued a statewide ban.
May 8, 2008–They’re colorful, have fun shapes and sometimes make noise — but these small trinkets are not toys. A toy lighter sparked a mission for Altoona firefighter Joel Westendorf. He collected the novelty lighters until one day, his six-year-old wanted to play with it.
Westendorf says she was confused by the situation. “My wife told her to put that down. She says ‘Oh this is one of daddy’s toys.’ That’s when I decided to try and press this a little further,” Westendorf said.
Now Westendorf is working with the state fire marshal’s office and Iowa Senator Dennis Block on a bill that would ban novelty lighters. The state fire marshal’s office says parents need to practice safety tips themselves.
It recommends to store matches and lighters out of children’s reach and sight, to use lighters with child-resistant features, and to teach your children to tell an adult if they see matches or lighters.