Multi-purpose lighters, including micro-torches, were introduced around 1985. Sales of multi-purpose lighters increased rapidly after
their introduction. Scripto-Tokai, the firm that introduced multi-purpose lighters, reports that it sold one million units the first year. Industry sources estimate that yearly sales of multi-purpose lighters reached the 20 million mark in the late 1990's.
From 1988 through 1999, the Consumer Product Safety Commission identified a total of 340 fires that were reportedly started by children playing with multi-purpose lighters. These fires caused 65 deaths and 138 injuries. For the incidents where the age of the fire starter was known, children under age 5 ignited 237
of these fires, which resulted in 45 deaths and 103 injuries. Twenty-eight of the 45 fatalities were children younger than age 5.
In addition to the fatalities, these fires resulted in severe injuries. Among the fires caused by children younger than age 5, four
surviving children received burns
over 70% or more of their bodies. These burns will require extensive long-term treatment.
The high proportion of fatalities that were children younger than age 5, and the severity of the injuries, illustrate the hazard associated with children playing with multi-purpose lighters. Because the data are incidents reported to CPSC rather than national estimates,
the full extent of the problem may be greater.
Many of the children found the multi-purpose lighters in easily accessible locations, such as on kitchen counters or furniture tops. Others, however, obtained the lighters from more inaccessible locations, such as high shelves or cabinets, where parents tried to hide them.
Critics of multi-purpose lighters say their shape and color are too tempting for young children. Coming in multiple bright colors and resembling a gun due to their trigger mechanism, the lighters seem to attract infants who mistaken the products for toys.
If you have been injured due to a multi-purpose lighter, it may be important to contact an attorney
who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits
within which you must commence suit.Information Provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Defective & Dangerous Products: Overview
- Burns: Overview
- Scars: Overview
- Skin Disorders: Overview
- Wounds: Overview