Burns: Preventing Burns in Your Home

Burns: Preventing Burns in Your Home

Prevent burns by preventing fires and other accidents that cause burns in your home. Fires and burns often happen unexpectedly. However, you can take precautions to help prevent them. Be prepared and know what to do if a fire or accident causes burns in your home.

Path to improved health

Not all burns happen because of fires. Household chemicals, scalding water, and household appliances can also cause burns. Here are some fire and burn prevention and safety tips for your home:

General fire safety

  • Put smoke alarms in your home. Check them monthly. If they run on batteries, put in new batteries every 6 months.
  • Think about how you would get out of your home in a fire emergency. Make a family escape plan and have regular fire drills at home. Designate a meeting place outside your home in case there is a fire.
  • Have a professional electrician check the wiring in your home at least once every 10 years.
  • Have a professional inspect and clean your chimney and fireplace once a year.
  • Learn how and when to use a fire extinguisher. Keep one or more in your home.

Preventing different types of fires or burns in your home

  • Prevent chemical burns by wearing gloves and other protective clothing when you handle chemicals. Store chemicals, including gasoline, out of the reach of children.
  • To prevent electrical burns, put covers on any electrical outlets that are within a child’s reach. Throw out electrical cords that are frayed or damaged.
  • Use space heaters carefully. Teach children to stay away from them.
  • Store matches and lighters in a locked cabinet, away from children.
  • Never leave candles unattended. Blow them out when you leave the room.
  • If you smoke, don’t smoke in bed. Get rid of used cigarettes carefully. Fires caused by smoking materials are the leading cause of deaths in house fires.
  • Before putting a child younger than age 1 into a car seat, touch the seat to see if it is hot. Hot seat-belt straps or buckles can cause second-degree burns on small children. Cover the car seat with a towel when you park in the sun.
  • Don’t let small children play near the stove or help you cook at the stove.
  • Don’t wear clothing with long, loose sleeves when you are cooking.
  • Cooking fires are the leading cause of house fires. Put out a small fire on a stove by sliding a lid over the flames.
  • Do not use a microwave oven to warm baby bottles. The liquid heats unevenly and can scald your baby’s mouth.
  • Unplug hot irons (clothing and curling irons). Keep them out of reach of children.

Preventing hot water burns in your home

  • Test the water temperature before you or your children get into the tub or shower. Don’t let young children touch the faucet handles during a bath.
  • Set the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees F, or use the “low-medium” setting. Water that is hotter than this can cause burns in 2 to 3 seconds.
  • Turn the handles of pots and pans toward the side of the stove, or use the back burners.
  • Use cool-water humidifiers or vaporizers. If you use hot-steam vaporizers, keep them out of the reach of children.

Things to consider

If there is a fire in your home, your family should:

  • Stick to your family escape plan. Get to your meeting place as fast as you can.
  • Stay low to the ground. Crawl if you have to. Smoke and heat rise. It will be easier to breathe closer to the floor. (Many more people die from the poisonous gasses caused by house fires than from burns.)
  • Check closed doors by touching them with the back of your hand. If the door is hot, don’t open it. It means the fire is nearby. If it is cool, open it slowly and peek out.
  • Close doors to separate yourself from the fire and smoke.
  • If you or your clothes catch on fire, “stop, drop and roll” your body on the ground.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • What medicine should I keep at home to treat mild burns?
  • What does a severe burn look like?
  • Are there natural remedies to treat a mild burn?
  • Can over-the-counter pain relievers help with the pain of a mild burn?
  • What is the treatment for smoke inhalation?

Resources

American Red Cross, Home Fire Safety

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Burn Prevention

National Safety Council, Safety at Home Fires and Burns

U.S. National Library of Medicine, Fire safety at home

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