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A Quick Guide on How to Protect Your Family from Burns and Fires

Children explore the world by touching, climbing, and experimenting with anything that grabs their attention. It can be quite challenging to always keep track of a curious child.
   
Written by Natalia Gilbert, MD Candidate with Julie Belkowitz, MD, MPH, Lyse Deus, MEd, and Oneith Cadiz, MD

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Common situations that may cause a burn to a child include toppling over a hot cup of coffee, taking a bath with hot water, touching the stovetop, getting burned from cooking with a microwave, and fires. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), younger children tend to get burned from hot water scalding, while older children tend to obtain burns from direct contact with flames. Children are often not aware of these dangers and depend on adults to protect them from harmful situations.
According to the CDC, each year about 300 children die and tens of thousands of kids are treated in the emergency room for injuries from fires or burns.
The best way to protect your family is to take measures to decrease the chance of a burn or fire, and to make sure there is a safety plan set up if either does occur!

What can I do to prevent a burn or scald injury at home?

Children are at risk for burns from hot liquids, hot surfaces like a stovetop, and contact with electricity and chemical substances. Here are some tips on what you can change in the home to protect your family:

Important message

What can I do to decrease the chance of a fire occurring at home?

Practice fire-safe habits to avoid unintended fires in the home:
  • Don’t walk away from food while its cooking on the stove or in the oven.
  • Make sure that liquids and items that can catch fire easily, including matches, are not stored near sources of heat or ignition.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children.
  • Do not smoke indoors.
  • Avoid plugging appliances into extension cords. Overloading extension cords can lead to fires or electrical shocks that can hurt others.

How can I get ahead? Preparing your Home:

Take some steps to prepare your home to be able to act quickly in a fire:
  • Install smoke detectors and water sprinklers throughout the home.
  • Test the detectors every month
  • Change the batteries on the smoke detector every six months.
  • Place fire extinguishers in areas that are easily accessible during an emergency.
  • Teach everyone in the home where the fire extinguishers are located and how to use them.
  • If your home has a second story, it is a good idea to buy a safety ladder to escape.

What should I do in the case of a fire? Build an escape plan!

Plan and practice an escape plan. Chat with your family members about the following:
Post important emergency contact information in a visible place in your home. Include 911, the local fire department number, your home address and phone number, and an emergency contact. This is especially important if you have a babysitter or someone else watching your children when you are not home.
Teach your children your address and how to call 911.

What happens if my child does get burned?

Ensure your own safety first! Then:
  1. Immediately run cool water over the burned area to relieve pain. Do not use ice, butter, grease, powder or rub on the burned area – it may irritate, lead to blistering, and delay the healing process.
  2. Cool any hot or smoking clothing by soaking in cool water, then remove clothing from the burned area. If the clothing is stuck to the skin do not pull on it, instead cut away as much clothing as possible.
  3. If the burn is not oozing: cover gently with gauze or a clean, dry cloth.
  4. If the burn is oozing: cover gently with gauze or a clean, dry cloth, then seek immediate medical attention.
To learn about more pediatrician-approved ways to prevent burns, visit healthychildren.org or contact the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Miami, a program supported by The Children’s Trust, at 305-243-9080  or injuryfreemiami.org.

Resources

“Burn Treatment & Prevention Tips for Families.” HealthyChildren.org, American Academy of Pediatrics, 16 Sept. 2019. Read more
“Fire Safety Outreach Materials to Keep Kids Safe from Fire.” U.S. Fire Administration, 13 Jan. 2022. Read more

Resources:

Scald Statistics and Data Resources – Ameriburn.” American Burn Association, 2019. Read more

CDC citation:

“Protect the Ones You Love Burns” Center for Disease Control, Department of Health and Human Services. Read more
Fire Safety: Protecting Your Family from a Home Fire. Read more

Events

2022 National Conference

December 2-4, Ft. Lauderdale

National Injury Prevention Day

November 18, 2022