SEATTLE, Wash. — Each year on average 18,300 Americans are injured, and more than 3,500 die in fires, with children age 14 and under making up 10-15 percent of all fire deaths. National Burn Awareness Week is traditionally observed the first full week in February, and according to FEMA Regional Administrator Ken Murphy, it’s the perfect calendar observance to focus on preventing fires and protecting children.
“Children under the age of 5 account for fifty-two percent of all child fire deaths, and home fires tend to spike in winter months, placing younger children and toddlers at even greater risk,” said Murphy. “Many children are unable to escape from fire on their own, and I encourage parents and caregivers to use National Burn Awareness Week as an opportunity to take actions that keep their loved ones, and particularly children, safe from fire and burn hazards.”
Top tips to avoid fire and keep kids safe around the house include:
- Keep children at least 3 feet from hot stoves and cooking appliances. When cooking, use back burners with pot handles turned towards the back of the stove.
- Have fireplace flues and chimneys inspected for leakage and blockage from creosote or debris.
- Open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire and keep it open until the ashes are cool. Store ashes in fire-resistant containers; cover the container with a lid, and dispose of ashes carefully.
- Place space heaters on a floor that is flat and level—Do NOT put space heaters on rugs or carpets. Keep space heaters at least three feet from bedding, drapes, furniture and other flammable materials and place them out of the flow of foot traffic. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
- Always tuck cords from appliances where children cannot reach them.
- Install smoke alarms on every level in your home, and inside and outside sleeping areas.
- Test smoke alarms each month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
Excellent online resources for fire prevention education materials and protecting children from fire and burns include:
http://go.usa.gov/rfF; www.usfa.dhs.gov/kids/; www.safekids.org; www.redcross.org; www.fema.gov and www.Ready.gov. Learn about FEMA’s Children’s Working Group (CWG) at www.fema.gov/about/cwg.shtm.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
Let’s look at some quick facts about burn injuries:
- Burn Injuries Receiving Medical Treatment Per Year: 500,000
- Fire and Burn Deaths Per Year: 4,000
- Hospitalizations for Burn Injury Per Year: 40,000 total, including 25,000 admissions to hospitals with specialized burn centers
- Burn Cause: 46% fire/flame, 32% scald, 8% hot object contact, 4% electrical, 3% chemical, 6% other
- Place of Occurrence: 43% home, 17% street/highway, 8% occupational, 32% other
Although very few burn injuries occur at work compared to home, the risk is still around us. Steam pipes, electrical arc flashes, hot machine components and chemicals are just a few of the areas where you have exposure to burn injuries.
Your best protection for these types of exposures is awareness. More often than not, people get burned at work by coming in contact with hot components unexpectedly. They didn’t realize the component was hot or they weren’t aware of their body’s position to the object. Take some extra time when around these areas of the facility to ensure you know the hazard and make a conscious effort to keep away from these hot components.
The other line of defense for these injuries is to wear PPE when working in close proximately to these burn hazards. Whether using rubber gloves when working with chemicals or thermal gloves when dealing with steam lines, PPE can afford you the protection you need.