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Burn Prevention

The best burn care begins with prevention

By taking steps to prevent fire and exposure to flame, you can reduce the risk and impact of burn injuries. According to the American Burn Association, the three leading causes of fire deaths are smoking materials, heating and cooking. The three leading causes of burns that result in injury are: fire-flames, scalds, electrical and chemical.

Fire prevention

To decrease the risk of burn injuries from household fires, follow these ABA recommendations: 
  • Install smoke alarms on each level of your home and outside each sleeping area. 
  • Test smoke alarms each month. 
  • Develop a realistic escape plan with two exits for each room. Designate a meeting place that is a safe distance from the house. Keep all exits clear. 
  • Set hot water heaters at 120 F or lower. 
  • Cook on back burners when possible. 
  • Point all pot handles away from edges. 
  • Coil appliance cords away from counter edges. 
  • When frying foods, have the appropriate lid size nearby. If fire occurs, slide the lid onto the pan to smother the fire. Never carry a flaming pan to the sink or outside. 
  • Insist on no smoking in your home. Misuse of smoking materials is the No. 1 cause of fatal home fires for older adults. 
  • Never smoke near an oxygen source. 
  • Never smoke where you sleep. 
  • If you use oxygen, stay at least 5 feet away from flame sources such as gas stoves, candles and lighted fireplaces. 
  • If you use oxygen, place a sign that says so on your front door. Do not smoke or allow others to smoke in your home. 
  • Check electric blankets for cracks or breaks in wiring, plugs and connectors. 
  • If you use an electric heating pad, use a timer switch so it shuts off automatically, or choose a product with a built-in sensor and automatic shut-off. 
  • Keep all combustibles, such as clothing, curtains and paper, at least 3 feet away from space heaters, fireplaces, candles and any other sources of fire or flame. 
  • Place a safety decal (available from your local fire department) on bedroom windows. This decal aids in rescue efforts. 
Learn more about fire safety and burn prevention tips

Scald prevention

To decrease the risk of scald injuries, follow these ABA recommendations:
  • Set hot water heaters at 120 F and install an anti-scald device. 
  • Store clothing irons, hair curlers and curling irons out of the reach of children, and coil cords away from counter edges. 
  • Store containers of hot liquid far from counter edges to prevent children from pulling them onto themselves. 
  • Never drink or carry hot liquids while holding or carrying a child. Quick motions, such as reaching or grabbing, may cause the hot liquid to spill. 
  • Cook on the back burner when possible. 
  • Point all pots and handles away from stove edges. 
  • Remember, children can pull tablecloths, resulting in hot spills that can burn or scald. 
  • Test water temperature before placing children in the tub. If the water is hot to the touch, then it is too hot for children. 
  • Never leave unattended children in the bathroom or kitchen. 
  • Keep children away from space heaters, floor furnaces and fireplace glass. Gas fireplace glass doors are at ground level and easily accessible. The glass temperature can be as hot as 500 degrees. 
  • Place plastic plugs in electrical outlets. Inserting a fork, key or other metal object into an outlet could result in an electrical burn. Keep electrical cords and wires out of the way so children do not chew on them. Replace damaged, brittle or frayed electrical cords. 

Children and firesetting

If your child is unusually fascinated with fire, sets fires deliberately or experiments with fire, seek professional help. Contact your local fire department for assistance with prevention information and to learn about programs available for juvenile firesetters.

Family burn prevention

An important step in burn prevention is having an action plan in case of a fire. Create a home fire plan, and talk to your children about what they should do. Know how to escape, where to meet if a fire occurs and where to locate fire extinguishers. 

Additional resources

Visit the CDC for more information about preventing fire and burn injuries.

Use these resources to learn more about fire prevention.