Fire Safety & Burns

The American Academy of Pediatrics provides helpful information on this topic through their website Click their link below for tips.

The second biggest type of pediatric injury are burns.  The most common are from spilled hot liquids, the most dangerous happen in house fires.  Two other notable types are the terribly disfiguring burn associated with chewing through an electrical cord and the all too common burns stemming from the recreational use of fireworks.  The latter are notorious and no amount of adult supervision can render them safe.  Don’t allow your child to use them and support efforts to outlaw their sale.

If you have not conducted a fire drill with your family within the past six months you should by all means do so.  Several activities should be included in this. Multiple escape routes from your home’s living quarters should be rehearsed.  “Survival techniques” such as staying low to the floor to avoid smoke inhalation, feeling doors for heat prior to opening them, and the use of “stop-drop-roll” to extinguish burning clothes should be explicitly taught to and practiced with the children.  Smoke detectors, at least one of which should be installed on every level of your home (perhaps more depending on size), should be tested and children familiarized with the sound. Fire extinguishers should be present in the kitchen (and in bedrooms of smokers) – they should also be tested and their use reviewed.  Finally, it is crazy to try to save personal belongings in a fire. You know this – the fire drill is an excellent time to tell it to your children.

Certain simple rules are important to establish and strictly enforce from an early age.  Never allow children to be held by or sit in the lap of an adult who is smoking or drinking a hot drink.  Be sure your hot water heater is set for a temperature of no higher than 115°F.  Don’t let children reach for things on stoves or countertops.  Teach them never to touch electrical cords and outlets, or go near “space heaters”, irons, and other hot appliances.

Finally, a word on the treatment of burns.  Burns in children are often more of a medical problem than a similar burn would be in an adult.  Parents should know that physicians who specialize in neither children nor burns may not appreciate this.  Therefore, any burn in a child which is larger than an inch in diameter, involves a hand, foot, the face, or “crosses” a joint, or which is third degree should always be evaluated by a pediatrician, pediatric surgeon, or a burn specialist.