Firefighters are reminding Tauranga residents to keep lighters and matches out of reach of children and that failing to do so is like giving them a loaded gun.
The warning follows a number of fires across the country caused directly by children playing with lighters or matches this year.
This includes an Opotiki man being badly burned in a house fire started by a child playing with a lighter in April.
Fire investigation and arson reduction manager Peter Wilding says just because there have not been any more recent cases in the Bay of Plenty, people should not become complacent.
He in the past three months there have been several very serious fires across New Zealand, all started by children under five-years-old.
“Some children treat lighters and matches as toys and are fascinated by the sparks and flame. No lighter is completely child-safe.
“The only way to protect your children, your families and your homes safe from these fires is to keep lighters out of reach of young ones.”
Peter says leaving lighters or matches within reach of kids is like giving them a loaded gun.
He advises people to put matches and lighters up on a shelf, out of the reach of children, or carry them with you.
“Teach children to bring you any matches and lighters they find. Make sure your smoke alarms are working.”
Peter says he is also concerned some retailers are selling lighters that are not compliant with the child safety legislation.
“I have gone into several variety shops recently and three out of five lighters did not meet our child-safety standards.”
Peter says he is working with Consumer Affairs and will be taking the issue up with importers.