Safeguard your home and family from fires

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Fires and burns are the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among American children ages 14 and under.

Each year, more than 500 children, ages 14 and under, die due to accidental fire- and burn-related injury.

In 2003, an estimated 83,300 children, ages 14 and under, were treated in hospital emergency rooms for burn-related injuries.

Of these injuries, about 52,200 were thermal burns, 21,000 were scald burns, 6,100 were chemical burns and 1,400 were electrical burns.

Children, ages 4 and under, are at the greatest risk, with a burn injury death rate more than two times that of children, ages 5 to 14.

Burns are among the most painful and devastating injuries a person can sustain and survive.

Children&8217;s Health System offers these safety precautions for protecting your family:

– Do not leave children alone around open flames, stoves or candles.

– Keep matches, gasoline, lighters and other flammable materials out of children&8217;s reach.

– Teach children a plan for escaping your home in a fire and practice it often.

– Install smoke alarms in your home on every level and in every sleeping area. Test them once a month. Replace the batteries at least twice a year. Replace alarms every 10 years.

– Before bathing children in heated water, always run your open hand through the water to check its temperature.

– Keep hot foods and liquids away from table and counter edges. Never carry children and hot foods or liquids at the same time. Turn all pot handles away from edges of the stove.

– Do not leave electrical appliances such as slow cookers or fryers that contain hot liquids unattended.

– Keep things that easily catch fire (such as papers) away from heat sources like stoves, heaters and fireplaces.

For more information on this and other children&8217;s health and safety issues, you may visit Children&8217;s advocacy web site at

Garland Stansell serves as communications director for Children&8217;s Health System