Consumer Reports: Unexpected dangers from lighters

May 15, 2012 2:45:54 PM PDT
Every year fires caused by lighters kill dozens of people. Most of the victims are children. Consumer Reports has a warning about some newer lighters that are especially enticing to kids.

Tegan Ferguson told reporters, "I wanted to know how a lighter worked and it took me like one time to just light it."

That "one time" resulted in Tegan getting badly burned when he was 5 years old. He has to have surgeries and skin grafts until he's an adult.

" It's something that I would have never imagined to happen," his mother Amber Ferguson said.

Tegan was injured with a lighter used to start grills. There are other lighters widely available that are even more tempting to children.

Consumer Reports says they look a lot like toys. They're called novelty lighters.

"Even the Lighter Association, the industry trade group for traditional lighters, has called for a nationwide ban on the sale and distribution of novelty lighters," according to Urvashi Rangan of Consumer Reports. "Yet they're still available for sale in most states, as well as online."

Most lighters, including novelty lighters, are required by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to have some kind of "mechanism that ... Makes the lighter child-resistant." But that doesn't mean lighters are childproof. In fact, Tegan's mother says the lighter he was playing with had a safety catch, but it didn't keep him from getting badly burned.

"You need to store lighters and matches out of children's reach," according to Rangan. "Never underestimate their curiosity about fire or ability to use a lighter."

As you can see by the map at this link, some states have banned the sale and distribution of novelty lighters . New Jersey's legislation went into effect in 2009. Pennsylvania's legislation is still pending. Delaware has no legislation at this time.