Signs: What to Look For

A child or teenager may be misusing fire if you find:

  • Lighters, matches, or fireworks in a child's room, pockets, or belongings

  • Lighters, matches, aerosol sprays, fireworks, or flammable liquids (accelerants) in your home come up missing and/or are found in a different location than where an adult last left them

  • Discarded lighters or matches (e.g., in the garbage, on the ground or yard, in hidden places, etc.)

  • Smell of smoke or something burning without a known source

  • Unexplained burn/scorch marks or melted areas in carpeting, floors, toys, clothing, papers, furniture, wastebaskets, closets, outdoor areas, grass, etc.

  • Smell of gasoline, kerosene, alcohol-based gels, or other accelerants on a youth's clothing or in an area they have been playing

  • Unusual items (or remains of unusual items) in the child's room or in other areas of your home or yard such as: toilet bowl cleaner, aluminum foil, plastic pop/soda bottles, candle/hobby/craft wicks, gunpowder, CO2 cartridges, etc.

  • Videos or pictures of fire misuse on the youth's cell phone, computer, mobile device, or related posts on their online social media and video accounts

Even if a youth has not misused fire, they may be at a higher risk for future misuse if they:

  • Show an extreme fascination or interest in fire

  • Have observed others misusing fire (including adults)

  • Frequently view online videos, blogs, social media posts, or websites that have a focus on or display unsafe fire use

  • Frequently play video games that involve fireballs, Molotov cocktails, explosives, flame throwers, and other dangerous uses of fire



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