Burn Prevention

Safety and Prevention

According to the American Burn Association, approximately 73 percent of all burns happen in the home, where the risk is especially great for children and older adults. Educating your family about burn safety and prevention can help reduce these risks.

Burn prevention education for children

Common burn risks for children include hot water, house fire, hot grease, hot liquids and matches.

Here are several ways to help prevent burn injuries in children:

  • Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children. Keep accelerants like gasoline and propane outside the home.
  • Teach older children the proper ways to light and extinguish matches. These lessons can discourage a child from hiding and playing with matches.
  • Use short cords on electrical appliances and don’t let them dangle over the edge of kitchen counters.
  • Keep hot liquids out of reach, away from the edges of tables and counters.
  • Keep children from underfoot while cooking. Teach young children to stay a safe distance from stoves, ovens and campfires.
  • Keep pan handles turned in while cooking, so they cannot be pulled off the stove by a child.
  • Adjust your water heater temperature to keep hot water at 120º or below as it comes from tap.
  • Test hot water before putting child in the bathtub. Never leave a child unattended in a bathtub.
  • Do not leave candles burning unattended.
  • Place protectors over unused electrical outlets.
  • Never use a heating pad on a small child.

Burn prevention tips for older adults

Common high risks for older adults include hot water, flammable liquids, smoking in bed, house fire and efforts to stay warm. According to the American Burn Association, adults age 65 and older are twice as likely to die in house fires, while adults 85 and older are four times more likely to die from a burn injury.

Help prevent common burn injuries:

  • Use heating pad on lowest setting only.
  • Wear short-sleeved, close-fitting clothing while cooking. Do not leave food cooking on the stove unattended, and keep pan handles turned toward the center of the stove.
  • Test the water temperature before bathing or showering.
  • Never use a kitchen oven or stove to heat your home.
  • Have a fire extinguisher in your home and know how to use it.
  • Do not smoke in bed.
  • If you use oxygen, never smoke or cook while in use. Do not allow anyone in your home to smoke while oxygen is in use.
  • Follow safety precautions when dealing with flammable substances, electricity or chemicals.
  • Avoid burning trash or leaves. If you must burn trash or leaves, do not use flammable liquids or fire starters.
  • Always follow the directions for operating heat sources.

In case of a fire

One of the best ways to keep your family safe is by making sure that smoke alarms are located on each level of your home. Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms every six months.

It’s important to have a plan in place in case of a house fire, and to practice that plan with regular fire drills. Your plan should cover how family members will exit the home, as well as where they will meet after exit.

Consider the following questions when making a plan:

  • Is there an emergency or second exit that can be used? A window can be used if a door is blocked by smoke, heat or gases. Store a rope or window ladder in second-floor rooms to provide a safe exit from a window.
  • Do you have a signal to alert the entire family in case of a fire? This signal could be a whistle, shouting or pounding on a wall.
  • Do you have an identified meeting place after exit? Everyone should be instructed to gather at a predetermined meeting place a safe distance from the house. Remind family members never go back into the house in the event of a fire.

In case of a fire, remember:

  • If door is hot to the touch or if smoke is coming into room around the door, do not open the door. Leave the room by another exit.
  • If trapped inside a room, drop to a crawling position to reach the cleanest air. Try to crawl to a safe exit.