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Fire Safety and Burns Overview

What are the different types of burns?

A burn injury usually results from an energy transfer from a heat source to the body. There are many types of burns caused by thermal, radiation, chemical, or electrical contact.

  • Thermal burns--burns due to external heat sources which raise the temperature of the skin and tissues and cause tissue cell death or charring. Hot metals, scalding liquids, steam, and flames, when coming in contact with the skin, can cause thermal burns.

  • Radiation burns--burns due to prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun, or to other sources of radiation such as X-ray.

  • Chemical burns--burns due to strong acids or alkaloids coming into contact with the skin or eyes.

  • Electrical burns--burns due to a contact with an alternating current, such as open wiring or being struck by lightning.

Fires and burns are some of the leading causes of accidental injury-related deaths among children ages 14 and under.

The leading cause of residential fire-related death and injurdy among children ages 5 and younger is child play, when children are left unattended. Most fires started by child play are set with matches or lighters.

However, taking a few precautions in your home can go a long way in keeping your family safe. According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, you can make your home more fire- and burn-proof by taking the following steps:

  • Install and maintain your smoke alarms (working smoke alarms can cut the chance of dying in a residential fire in half).

  • Install sprinkler systems.

  • Develop a fire escape plan with your family.

  • Keep and maintain your fire extinguishers.

  • Lower the setting on water heater thermostats to 120° F or below to prevent scald burns.

  • Install anti-scald devices in water faucets and shower heads.

  • Teach fire and burn safety behavior to your children.

Online Medical Reviewer: Duldner, John E., MD, MS
Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/14/2015
© 2000-2015 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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