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'Prevent Youth Firesetting' is the theme of Arson Awareness Week
Arson Awareness Week is May 6-12, and the focus for this year is "Prevent Youth Firesetting." This theme was selected because youth fire play has devastating consequences in the U.S., according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in a press release from Northshore Fire Department Fire Marshal Jeff LaFlam.
The NFPA states:
• Fires started by children accounted for an average of 56,300 fires with associated losses of 110 civilian deaths, 880 civilian injuries and $286 million in direct property damage per year between 2005 and 2009.
• Males are more likely to engage in fireplay than females.
• Lighters were the heat source in half (50 percent) of child-playing fires in homes.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI's) Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program juveniles accounted for roughly 46 percent of arson arrests in 2005 to 2010.
Here are a few things that you can do to reduce the likelihood of arson in your community:
• Start a neighborhood-watch program to prevent arson and other crime. In addition to watching for suspicious activity in the community, focus on abandoned buildings for signs of breaking and entering. Also look for abandoned vehicles, which are easy prey for arsonists. Report anything suspicious to the police.
• Keep properties clean. A clean property is less at risk for arson, whether it's abandoned or occupied.
• Keep flammable liquids safely out of sight, locked in a shed or garage. Leaving liquids like gasoline in a readily accessible place can invite arson, especially if there's also combustible or flammable material around.
• Treat outdoor arson fires as seriously as any other arson. Outdoor fires are often "gateway" fires for young arsonists. Realize, though, that juveniles are likely troubled if they are setting fires and focus on prevention by engaging youth in activities to channel their energy in a positive way.