Burn Prevention and Safety
According to the American Burn Association, over 450,000 people seek medical care for a burn injury in the United States and Canada every year. These injuries can be painful, devastating and even deadly, but the good news is, most of them are preventable.
At Regional One Health’s Firefighters Burn Center, we realize the best care includes keeping burns from ever happening in the first place. Education and prevention are crucial aspects of our lifesaving mission, and we encourage everyone to be aware of their surroundings and behavior.
Make Your Home Burn Safe
Nearly 3 out of every 4 burn injuries occur at home. Cooking, the use of personal electronics, yard work and other common household activities can all pose a burn danger. Fortunately, there are common sense steps you can take to minimize risk throughout your property.
Throughout the home:
- Install smoke alarms in every bedroom and on every level of the home.
- Place fire extinguishers throughout the home.
- Talk to all household members, including children, about burn safety.
- Monitor children and pets around anything that could be a fire or burn injury treat.
- Use outlet covers and never overload power strips or outlets.
- Keep electrical cords, including phone chargers, away from water.
- Keep space heaters away from anything that could burn by creating a 3-foot safety zone
- Set your hot water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit (just below the medium setting), and always supervise young children while bathing.
- Don’t leave burning candles unattended.
- Unplug hot tools like hair stylers, irons, heating pads, etc. when not in use. Allow plenty of time to cool down before handling them.
- If you have a fireplace, remember that glass doors can stay hot for over an hour after use.
In the kitchen:
- Don’t cook if you are drowsy or impaired due to medications or alcohol.
- Clean the stove, oven and exhaust fan regularly to prevent grease buildup.
- Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. Check regularly on food you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling. Do not leave the home while you are cooking.
- Always have hot pads readily available when cooking. Assume all pots and pans are hot.
- After cooking, check the kitchen to make sure all burners and appliances are turned off.
- Keep hot items on the stove out of reach of children. Use back burners and keep handles turned away from the edge.
- Enforce a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet around the stove and places where hot food or drink is being prepared or served.
- Keep hot drinks off low tables and countertop edges. Use a travel mug with a lid.
Outside the home:
- If you’re working outside using a ladder, be aware of the location of power lines.
- Keep a “kid free zone” of at least 3 feet around firepits and grills. Don’t leave children unattended around these items.
- Store gas, propane and other accelerants outside in a cool, well-ventilated area. Keep them out of reach of children and in a locked storage area.
- Store gasoline only in containers approved and labeled for its storage.
Responding to Fire and Burn Emergencies
While common-sense steps can help you avoid fire and burn emergencies, it is equally important to know what to do if there is a crisis. Always call 911 if you experience a serious burn or fire emergency. According to the American Red Cross and American Burn Association, here are also steps you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones safe while you wait for help to arrive.
In case of fire:
- Use the “PASS” method to operate a fire extinguisher: “P”ull the pin, “A”im at the fire, “S”queeze the handle and “S”weep from side to side to put out the fire.
- If the fire is too big to control with your fire extinguisher, call 911 and evacuate to a safe place. Go to a pre-designated meeting place. Do not go back inside.
- Never open doors that are warm to the touch. Choose another exit.
- If you are escaping through smoke, get low and go under the smoke.
- If your exits are blocked, stay in the room with the doors closed and a wet towel under the door. Open the window and signal for help by waving a flashlight or bright cloth.
- If your clothing is on fire, follow the “stop, drop and roll” technique. Do not run; this will make the fire burn faster.
In case of a major burn:
Major burns are a life-threatening medical emergency. If a burn injury is deep and larger than three inches in diameter, it is a major burn. Major burns can also cause dry or leathery skin and patches that are white, brown or black. If you notice any of these signs, take immediate action:
- Call 911 or get to the nearest emergency room.
- Protect the burn victim from further harm.
- Check the victim’s breathing and begin CPR if necessary.
- Remove anything that could be restrictive: jewelry, belts, etc.
- Use a cool, moist bandage or clean cloth to cover the area of the burn. Do not immerse large burns in water, as this can lead to hypothermia.
- Elevate the burned area above heart level.
- Watch for signs of shock such as pale skin, shallow breathing and fainting.
In case of a minor burn:
Minor burns are less than 3 inches in diameter and show up as superficial redness that looks like a sunburn. The victim may experience pain and blistering. Minor burns don’t require emergency care but should be treated appropriately to promote healing and reduce pain:
- Hold the burned area under cool (not cold) running water or apply a cool, wet compress.
- Remove tight items from the burned area before it begins to swell.
- When the burn is cooled, apply lotion with aloe vera or a moisturizer.
- Loosely wrap the burn with a sterile gauze bandage. Do not use fluffy cotton.
- Over-the-counter painkillers can provide relief from discomfort.
- Don’t break blisters, as they protect against infection. If a blister does break, clean the area with water and apply an antibiotic ointment.
Burn Survivor Resources
The Firefighters Burn Center focuses on care that not only saves lives but enhances quality of life. As our patients heal and return to normal activities, we understand that their burn injuries continue to have an impact on day-to-day life. Our team supports patients as they resume work, hobbies and independent living by connecting them with resources throughout the community.
American Burn Association
The American Burn Association is dedicated to improving the lives of everyone impacted by a burn injury. As an ABA-certified facility, the Firefighters Burn Center has full access to the research, care, educational, prevention and support resources provided by the ABA.
Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors
The Phoenix Society is the leading nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated to empowering people impacted by a burn injury. It unites burn survivors, loved ones, burn care professionals, researchers and others to empower the burn community and build a safer world.
The Firefighters Burn Center participates in the Phoenix SOAR (Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery) program, which connects burn survivors and loved ones with others who have experienced similar trauma.