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Fire Safety and Burns Overview

Fire Safety and Burns Overview

What are the different types of burns?

A burn injury usually results from an energy transfer from a heat source to the body. There are many types of burns caused by thermal, radiation, chemical, friction, or electrical contact.

  • Thermal burns are caused by heat sources that raise the temperature of the skin and tissues and cause tissue cell death or charring. Hot metals, scalding liquids, steam, and flames can cause thermal burns.

  • Radiation burns are caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun, or to other sources of radiation, such as X-rays.

  • Chemical burns are caused by strong acids or alkaloids coming into contact with the body.

  • Friction burns are caused when heat is created between an object and the skin. The object is usually moving at a high rate of speed.

  • Electrical burns are caused by contact with an electrical current, such as open wiring or being struck by lightning.

Fires are one of the leading causes of accidental injury-related deaths among children and teens. In the U.S., most fire-related deaths are due to home fires. On average, these fast-moving fires give families only 2 minutes to escape.

The leading cause of residential fire-related death and injury among children ages 5 and younger is child play, when children are left unattended. Most fires started by child play are set with matches or lighters.

But taking a few precautions in your home can go a long way in keeping your family safe. You can make your home more fire- and burn-proof by taking the following steps:

  • Install and maintain your smoke alarms (working smoke alarms can cut the chance of dying in a residential fire in half). There should be at least one alarm on every floor. Alarms should be close to every room where family members sleep. Alarms should be tested once a month and batteries replaced at least every 6 months.

  • Keep children at least 3 feet away from anything that gets hot. Space heaters and stovetop ovens can cause life-threatening burns.

  • Cook with care. Don't leave small children alone in the kitchen when food is cooking. Turn pot handles away from the edge of the stove. If you have toddlers, don't use tablecloths. Small children may pull on the edge of the cloth and accidentally dump hot food on top of them.

  • Have a plan for babies and small children who can't get out of the house on their own. Identify who will get each child out of the house.

  • Teach children how to respond to a smoke alarm. Teach them to "get low and get out." Teach them to never go back into the house.

  • Install sprinkler systems.

  • Develop a fire escape plan with your family and practice fire drills. Make certain everyone knows two escape routes out of every room. Identify an outside meeting place.

  • Keep and maintain your fire extinguishers.

  • Lower the setting on water heater thermostats to 120°F or below to prevent scald burns.

  • Bathe children with their backs to the water faucets so they can't accidentally turn on the hot water.

  • Never leave a child or children alone in a bathtub, even for "a few seconds."

  • Install anti-scald devices in water faucets and shower heads.

  • Teach fire and burn safety behavior to your children. Never play with matches or lighters in front of your children. Keep these items in a secure location out of children's reach.

  • Keep candles out of children's reach. Always blow them out when you leave the room and at night.

  • Keep harsh chemicals such as drain cleaners out of children's reach. If possible, put them in a locked cabinet.

Reviewed Date: 08-01-2023

Fire Safety and Burns Overview
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5 Home Safety Threats You Might Overlook
A Safety Checklist for Parents
Essential Guidelines for Firework Safety
Have a Hazard-Free Halloween
Job Safety Critical for Teens
Preventing Household Poisonings
Teenagers and Summer Jobs
Tips to Lower a Toddler’s Choking Risk
Tote Your Baby in a Sling—Safely
Unwrap the Gift of Toy Safety
Burns Quiz
Fire Prevention Quiz
Food Safety Quiz
Kids and Swimming Safety Quiz
Diseases & Conditions
After a Burn: When to Call Your Child's Healthcare Provider
Airway Obstruction: Prevention
Bicycle / In-Line Skating / Skateboarding Safety
Bicycling, Inline Skating, Skateboarding, and Scooter Safety—Prevention
Burns Caused by Heat
Burns: Symptom Management
Chemical Burns
Chemical Burns of the Eye in Children
Classification and Treatment of Burns
Classification of Burns
Coping Emotionally After a Burn
Electrical Burns
Emergency Treatment of a Burn Injury
Eye Safety and First Aid
Fire Safety and Burns
Fire Safety and Burns Overview
Fire Safety and Burns—Identifying High-Risk Situations
First-Degree Burn in Children
Home Page - Adolescent Medicine
Home Page - Burns
Home Wound Care
If Your Child Has Trouble Adjusting After a Burn Injury
Motor Vehicle Safety Overview
Nutrition and Burns
Pedestrian Safety
Preventing Burn Injuries in Children
Preventing Burn Scars and Contractures in Children
Preventing Falls
Returning Home After a Burn Injury
Safety and Injury Prevention for Teens
Safety for You and Your Child
Second-Degree Burn in Children
Sports Safety for Children
Sports Safety for Teens
Sunburn and Children
Thermal Injuries
Third-Degree Burn in Children
Topic Index - Burns
Toy Safety
Toy Safety—Identifying High-Risk Situations
Toy Safety—Prevention
Water Safety and Teens
Water Safety for Children
Water Safety—Prevention

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.