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Special GoogleHealth Search

3) Fires and Burns: Return to 1st page

According to the Home Safety Council, residential fires and burns are the third leading cause of unintentional home injury deaths and the ninth leading cause of home injuries resulting in an emergency department visit.

As with poisonings and falls, the death rate is highest amongst senior citizens and children under the age of fiveónoticing a pattern here?

And while you may just be thinking that burns just come from open flames, a huge percentage of burns are actually caused by hot water.

Here are a few things that you can do to prevent fires and burns in your home:

  • Most people have their water heater at a much higher temperature than necessary. If the temperature is so high that a child (or adult) can be burned when simply washing his or her handsóitís on too high. Keep your water heater at a low temperature of 120 degrees.
  • Use the back burners on the stove when possible. Children canít reach them and thereís less of a chance of a hot pot getting knocked off of the stove.
  • Keep candles and other open flames out of reach of children.
  • According to Meri-K Appy, the president of the Home Safety Council, ďCooking mishaps are the number one cause of fires [and they often happen] when the cook leaves the stove unattended or becomes distracted.Ē That said, stay focused in the kitchen and never walk away from a pot that is in use.
  • Install smoke alarms throughout your home. Half of the fire related deaths occurred in the 5% of homes that donít have fire alarms.
  • Regularly test the batteries in your smoke alarm to be sure that it works. Of homes that have smoke alarms, 65% of the homes have non-working alarms. Most often this is simply because of a worn out battery.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen.
  • Keep clothes irons and curling irons out of reach of children and donít balance them precariously on counters or ironing boards. Teach children that irons and curling irons can remain hot even after they have been unplugged.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from flammable things like curtains and clothing.
  • Regularly clean chimneys and dryer exhausts as buildup in both can cause fires.  
  • Donít cook and hold a small baby or child at the same time.
  • Donít eat or drink anything hot while a baby or small child is sitting on your lap.

What to do if there is a fire?

For kitchen fires: Always keep the pot lid handy. In the event of a fire, pop the lid back on the pot (or use a cookie sheet) to prevent the fire from spreading. Baking soda is also effective in stopping a fire (it deprives the fire of oxygen).

For whole house fires: Have an escape plan and discuss it with everyone who lives there. Choose a meeting spot outside of the home so that you can meet up and be sure that everyone has made it out safely.

How to treat a burn
If it is a first-degree burn where only the first layer of skin has been affected, do the following:

  • Apply Honey- Hold it under cool water or place it in cool water for 10-15 minutes to reduce swelling. Do not ice it.
  • Loosely wrap the wound in a sterile gauze bandage.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain medication if necessary.

For all other burns, call 911 and seek medical attention immediately.

4) Choking and Suffocation:

According to the Home Safety Council, obstructed airway injuries are the fourth leading cause of unintentional home injury death in the United States. In fact, unintentional choking and suffocation is the leading cause of death for infants under the age of one.

The three main types of obstructed airway injuries are:

Suffocation: when the nose and mouth are obstructed by an external item like a plastic bag.
Because they have limited mobility, infants are at a huge risk for suffocation. 60% of infant suffocation occurs in beds and cribs when an infantís face becomes buried in soft bedding or a pillow or an adult rolls on top of them.

Choking: when something blocks the airways internally.
This is usually from bits of food or parts of toys. Children, who donít always chew their food properly, are especially at risk for choking on small, round foods that perfectly block the airway.

Strangulation: when there is some sort of external compression around the airway from an object like the chord from a blind.
Children easily get things wrapped around their necks like drawstrings, ribbons, necklaces, pacifier strings, and window blind cords. An average of one child a month dies due to strangulation from a window chord.
Children can also easily become strangled by openings that trap their heads like spaces in furniture, cribs, playground equipment, and strollers.

Here are a few things that you can do to prevent choking and suffocation in your home:


  • Donít place an infant facedown on a soft surface like a waterbed, comforter, or pillow or on a mattress that is covered in plastic.
  • Keep your infantís crib free of soft items like blankets, pillows, bumpers, and stuffed animals.
  • Purchase a crib mattress that fits snugly without any spaces on the sides where your baby can get stuck. Also, make sure that the sheets fit the mattress snugly and wonít get wrapped around your babyís head.
  • An infant should not sleep in an adultís bed, especially if adults are in it. Infants should also not sleep in the same bed as other children.
  • Make sure that crib bars are spaced so that a child cannot get his or her head stuck in-between them.
  • Infants should also not sleep on couches, chairs, or other soft surfaces.
  • Keep all plastic bags out of reach of children. That includes shopping bags, sandwich bags, and dry cleaning bags.
  • Keep uninflated balloons out of reach of young children and dispose of the pieces if they break.
  • Put child resistant locks on any airtight spaces that a child could climb into like a freezer.