Wooden matches are useful when they are stored properly and safely. Unfortunately, improperly stored matches find their way into the hands of children and inadvertently become a source of home fires. It is important to know how and where to safely store wooden matches to prevent a disaster.
Fire has a long history. For over five thousand years, flames were essential to create warmth, heat food and burn materials. Only in the last two hundred years did the invention of the modern match stick make it easy and convenient to spark an essential flame.
When storing wooden matches, keep in mind that humidity is the number one enemy. Storage solutions that keep moisture out include fruit canning jars, Tupperware, and recycled plastic containers. The goal is to store the wooden matches in a waterproof container.
Wooden matches may be stored in a mason jar. A useful tactic is to glue a piece of sandpaper onto the lid of the mason jar. The gritty side of the sandpaper serves to ignite the match when it is struck. The jar itself keeps the matches cool and dry.
Alternately, any glass jar with a metal lid is an ideal storage place for wooden matches. While a glass jar prevents matches from becoming wet, it also serves to prevent accidental ignition. A metal lid is better than a plastic one, since the latter can melt upon exposure to heat.
Store the jars in a cabinet, drawer or cupboard. An emergency survival kit is also a good place to store the jars. As mentioned, place the containers out of the reach of children. When placing them high on shelf, avoid too much height; glass jars can break if knocked over.
When stored safely and in a cool, dry place, wooden matches can last almost indefinitely. Waterproof matches do not exist, so ensure the matches are kept in waterproof containers. Instant fire creation can occur only when matches are fully dry.
Although inexpensive, disposable lighters are available, wooden matches continue to be used. Plus, due to their advertising value, book matches outsell wooden stick matches. Considering the prevalence of wooden matches, the potential for accidental ignition exists. Safety precautions should be practiced.
Matches come in two distinct varieties: the strike-anywhere match and the safety match. A flame is ignited in the strike-anywhere match when the end of the wooden stick topped with flammable materials is struck on a rough surface. The friction produced generates heat, which creates a flame.
A safety match, as its name implies, may only be ignited when the end of the match stick containing flammable materials is struck on a rough surface containing specific chemicals. The deliberate manner of lighting a safety match prevents accidental ignition.
Despite the safety mechanism built into safety matches, matches are a fire safety hazard when in the hands of children. According to the National Fire Protection Association, about 7,100 home fires per year in a recent five-year period were caused by playing with fire.
Each year during this five-year period, 77 civilian deaths occurred and 750 civilian injuries were sustained. Property damages cost homeowners $172 million. Most of these play fires sparked in the month of July and between the time frame of 2pm and 8pm.
More specifically, the National Fire Protection Association concludes that in more than half of the home playing structure fires, a lighter was the heat source. In these types of fires, 18 percent of the heat source consisted of matches. Eighty-two deaths were caused by lighters or matches.
Matches are still ignited, despite the prevalence of lighters, although a general decline in use continues to occur. July is a peak month (constituting nearly a quarter of all play fires) for playing fire catastrophes, most likely sparked by July the 4th firework activities.
Further statistics provided by the National Fire Protection Association show that 43 percent of playing fires were caused by children under the age of six. Youngsters between the ages of 10 and 12 are more likely to start outdoor fires. Males are known to ignite more fires than females.
Given these sobering statistics, it is critical to store wooden matches safely. In fact, homeowners with young children are urged to treat wooden matches like weapons that can be easily set off—matches should be stored in a locked cabinet, relatively high up and out of children’s sight and reach.
Homeowners who regularly use wooden matches are advised to not only store them safely but correctly. Proper storage ensures the matches will ignite when struck. Achieving this end requires that the wooden matches be stored in a cool, dry place.
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