The importance of fire safety
Thousands of people annually suffer injuries in home fires in the U.S. The majority of fire-related deaths (about 70 percent) are caused by smoke inhalation of the toxic gases produced by fires. Fires and burns are a leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths among children ages 14 and under.
What are the different types of burns?
A burn injury usually results from an energy transfer to the body. There are many types of burns caused by thermal, radiation, chemical, or electrical contact, including the following:
Thermal burns--burns due to external heat sources which raise the temperature of the skin and tissues and cause tissue cell death or charring; Hot metals, scalding liquids, steam, and flames, when coming in contact with the skin, can cause thermal burns.
Radiation burns--burns due to prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun, or to other sources of radiation, such as x-ray
Chemical burns--burns due to strong acids, alkalies, detergents, or solvents coming into contact with the skin and/or eyes
Electrical burns--burns from electrical current, either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC)
Preventing fires and burns
According to the United States Fire Administration, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, one-third of residential fires that kill children are caused by children playing with flammable products, such as matches. In addition, smoking in the home and a lack of working smoke alarms can significantly increase the chance of dying in a residential fire. However, by taking appropriate steps to make your home safe, you can protect your children and your family from fires:
Keep flammable products, such as matches, lighters, and candles locked and out of the reach of children.
Don't smoke or allow others to smoke in your home.
Install and maintain smoke alarms in your home.
Keep and maintain your fire extinguishers.
Maintain heating equipment, regularly have your furnace inspected, and turn off and unplug supplemental heaters when sleeping.
Only burn logs in the fireplace with a fireplace screen in place to protect against sparks. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected yearly.
Develop several fire escape plans from each room in the house and practice them regularly with your family.
Make sure items such as clothing or blankets do not cover lamps that are turned on.
Teach fire and burn safety behavior to your children.
The family escape plan
In the event of a fire, it is important to get out of the house fast. A good family escape plan should include the following:
two escape routes from each room (in case one exit becomes blocked by the fire)
a chain ladder for every upstairs bedroom
a drawn floor plan of your home with arrows indicating escape routes
repeated practice to familiarize yourself and your children with the escape plan
an agreed-upon meeting place outside of the house
Electric shocks from appliances and electrical outlets and cords can burn the skin and cause tissue and nerve damage. To avoid electrical shock, take the following precautions:
Keep electrical appliances away from sinks and bathtubs.
Ensure that your electrical appliances are approved by Underwriter's Laboratories (UL), which is indicated on the box or appliance itself.
Use ground fault circuit interrupters in areas near water, such as the kitchen, bathroom, and outside.
Unplug electrical cords that are not in use. Keep electrical cords out of reach of children.
Cover unused electrical outlets with safety covers.
Turn off electrical equipment that is not being used.
Burns are among the most painful and devastating injuries to a person. Severe burns can require long periods of treatment, including rehabilitation, skin grafts, and physical therapy.
The skin of young children is thinner than adults, which means it burns deeper and at a lower temperature. In fact, it only takes seconds of exposure to hot tap water to burn a young child, according to data from the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. Serious burns require hospitalization and skin grafts. However, by taking appropriate, preventive steps, you can protect your children from burns: