Friday, March 19, 2010

Novelty Lighters & the Danger They Pose to Kids

I remember from my high school days (back in the 1820s) how Zippo lighters were all the rage. Like a lava lamp, there was something transfixing about popping the lid open and shut, watching as the flame lite and extinguished at your command with the flip of a finger. By observing those who smoked, you'd get the impression that playing with the lighter was as addictive as the cigarette itself.

It turns out such novelty lighters can amuse more than a crowd of stoned adolescents. They can be mesmerizing to younger kids too. To make things worse, manufacturers have recently started marketing the lighters in figurines that look like little toys. They come in little animals, miniature cars, mobile phones, cameras, fishing lures, stacks of coins, markers, doll accessories, and just about any other little trinket you can think of. These hot commodities are tons of fun for the adults who buy them up. The problem is they're tons of fun for any kids who might get a hold of them as well.

Playing with matches and lighters takes more young lives every year than does playing with guns. While most people would never leave a loaded .44 magnum lying around, they often hardly think twice about what they use to light up with. When you combine a dangerous tool with an attractive, kid inviting package, it makes for a potentially deadly situation. At least two children have been killed from such lighters thus far, and several states have moved to outlaw the gadgets altogether.

Our advice to parents: If you smoke, stay away from such novelty lighters and stick with the boring kind. It's not worth the risk. The added allure could mean the difference between life and death. Of course, any fire making tool needs to be kept track of and regarded with the same-dangerous potential as a gun in-so-far as children are concerned.

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