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Burn Center

How to Prevent Burn Injury in Your Home

Nearly 500,000 Americans are treated for burn injuries every year, according to the American Burn Association. Most of these burns can be prevented by taking some simple precautions and making a few small changes in your home or at work.

The following are the most common types of burns that can happen at home, and some tips on how to prevent them.

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Scald Burns

Scald burns can happen to anyone. But young children, older adults and people with disabilities are most likely to suffer these burns.

Scald burns most commonly happen in the home — usually while preparing or serving food, or when taking a hot bath or shower.

To prevent scald burns:

  • Set the water heater temperature to no higher than 120 degrees, or just below the medium setting.
  • Create a “No Kid Zone” around the oven and kitchen counters where hot items may be.
  • Do not leave anything hot on a table within reach of young children.
  • Keep pots and pans on the back burner with handles turned away from the edge of the stove. 
  • Use oven mitts when cooking or handling hot food or drinks.

  • Open containers that have been heated in the microwave away from you to prevent hot steam from hitting you.

  • Use a travel mug with a tight-fitting lid for all hot drinks.

  • Always run bathwater for children and test how hot it is before the child gets in the bathtub. Never leave a child unattended in the bathtub.

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Cooking Burns

Nearly half of all home fires are caused by cooking accidents. Many of those accidents involve the stovetop or gas grill.

Follow these tips to avoid cooking-related burns:

Kitchen Stove
  • Always wear short or close-fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Regularly clean the stovetop, oven, and exhaust fan to prevent grease buildup.
  • When frying, use a pan lid or splash guard to prevent grease splatter.
  • Always keep a pan lid and oven mitts near you while cooking.
  • If your food does catch on fire, cover the pan with its lid or a baking sheet, and leave the pan covered until the fire is out and it is cool. Don’t try to move the pan outside.
  • Never use water to put out a cooking fire. It will cause the oil to splatter and spread the fire, or scald you as it vaporizes.
Charcoal or Gas Grill
  • Regularly check the connections and hoses on a grill for gas leaks. Never use a match, candle or flame source to check for a leak. Leaks can be found by spraying soapy water on the connections. If you see bubbles, there’s a leak. In that case, shut the tank valve off and tighten the connections.
  • Open the grill’s valve only a quarter to one-half turn before lighting. Close the valve completely when the grill is not in use. 
  • Never start a gas grill with the lid closed. The gas may accumulate inside and could blow the lid off when ignited. 
  • When using a charcoal grill, never use gasoline as a starter fluid or accelerant.
  • Wear an insulated, fire-retardant barbecue mitt when lighting presoaked coals. 
  • Never add starter fluid to hot or even warm coals. It could cause an explosion. 

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Electrical Burns

More than 1,000 people each year are treated at burn centers for severe electrical burns. Thousands more are treated in emergency rooms and clinics. 

To avoid an electrical burn, take these precautions:

Appliances and Electrical Outlets
  • Disconnect appliances by pulling on the plug, not the cord.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a 3-slot outlet.
  • Do not overload outlets, power strips, multi-plug adapters or extension cords. One appliance per outlet is a good rule of thumb.
  • Never use electrical appliances near water.
  • Unplug appliances before attempting to fix them.
  • Turn off all appliances that produce heat, such as curling irons, clothes irons, hot plates and stoves, and when you leave a room.
  • Use plug covers on any electrical outlets accessible to small children.
Circuit Breakers and Power Lines
  • Always turn off circuit breakers and test circuits to make sure they are de-energized before doing any household wiring.
  • When doing any work outside that requires a ladder, like cleaning gutters, pay attention to the location of overhead power lines.
  • If an electric power line is down on or near your home, keep everyone out of the area and call 911.

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Other Tips to Prevent Burns

Additional ways you can help to prevent a burn injury:

  • Never smoke in bed.
  • Never leave a lit space heater or fireplace unattended.
  • Never use gasoline indoors and store it in cool, well-ventilated areas.
  • Only fill gas-powered equipment like lawn mowers when the engines are cool.
  • Stop using a vaping device if the battery is damaged in any way.
  • Do not play with fireworks.
  • Frostbite is a type of burn — bundle up in freezing weather.

Most burns require immediate medical attention. If you have experienced a burn that requires urgent medical attention, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Appointments for Non-Urgent Burns

If you have a non-urgent burn and would like a second opinion, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who treat burns.