At Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America (BRCA), our multidisciplinary approach to burn injuries promotes the best possible outcomes for all patients treated by our nationwide system of burn care providers. While BRCA encourages patients to seek medical attention when an injury occurs, we do our best to educate online and in-person communities on the risks, treatments and preventions of various burns, wounds and skin and soft tissue disorders for better care and recovery.
Don’t wait. Know the risks.
While we do everything in our power to protect children, accidents happen and, more often than not, happen in our homes. According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, young children and adolescents are at the highest risk of injury and death from home fires, alongside the older adult population, than any other age group in the United States. Nationwide Children’s Hospital reports that more than 400 children younger than the age of ten die annually in home fires. Why is this?
Infants, toddlers and children with disabilities require assistance during a fire. If a home escape plan hasn’t been formed, there can be a lot of confusion about what duties each adult or older child should attend to, including assisting those who need it. All children younger than five should not be expected to escape the house without assistance. Even with an escape plan in place, someone should be assigned to assist them.
Children can be deep sleepers, and fire alarms don’t always wake them, especially if the alarm is placed in a different area of the home or outside the bedroom. Nighttime fires are the most dangerous for this reason.
Also, children often panic in emergencies, especially if they aren’t prepared. They might freeze up or hide under the bed or in the closet. Hiding is the last thing you want your child to do. You want the firefighters to be able to locate them. Work with children to help them understand that even if they are scared, they should always seek help rather than hide.
However, young children aren’t the only ones at risk. Even older children and adolescents can become scared, confused or emotional during home fires, causing them to run back inside, stay behind to gather things or rush to locate pets. These belongings should never be a priority! Instruct children to escape the house and tell first responders of any pets or belongings they are worried about. It is always best to leave it to the professionals.
Fire safety for kids
Do not wait for schools to teach children about fire and burn safety. Start these life lessons early to help prevent accidental burns and reduce panic in a home fire. Consider the home fire safety tips below and share them with your child. When you’re done, encourage them to ask questions, come up with scenarios or ask some of their friends what they would do in the event of a fire. Open conversation is an excellent way for kids to learn and pass on their knowledge to others.
- Smoke alarms decrease the chances of home fire deaths by 50%. Install smoke detectors in your home and test them annually.
- Sit down as a family and create a home escape plan. Home escape plans help prepare all family members to take action in the event of a fire.
- When practicing your home escape plan, demonstrate how to seal a door from smoke, feel if the door is hot and crawl along the ground with your hand covering your mouth.
- Children do not always know which objects can burn them around the house or outside! Be sure to point out hot objects like hair appliances, irons, ovens, stoves, heaters, grills, lighters, etc.
- Keep combustible items such as lighters and matches out of reach.
- Supervise children around hot objects or open flames, such as candles, campfires, cigarettes, etc. Children will pull things down on them or stumble into something that can potentially burn them.
- Take every opportunity to talk to your child about fire and burn safety. Try not to stop at “No,” when they are about to do something dangerous. Continue to explain how what they are doing can be dangerous and how they can be safer in the future.
- While some children like to sleep with the door open, it is best to close all bedroom doors at night in case of a fire. Closed doors will slow the progression of a home fire and limit smoke inhalation.
- Talk to children and adolescents about dangerous online trends. Do not demonstrate or go into depth about how to do them. Instead, explain why they wouldn’t want to play with fire, heat candy in the microwave or any other hazardous “challenges” that may be going around online.
- Ensure children understand to never hide in the event of a fire.
- Only allow children to sleep in pajamas, not day clothes. Children’s pajamas are required by law to be flame resistant for nine months to size 14, meaning most pajamas in stores will be flame resistant.
- Always stop, drop and roll if clothing catches fire.
- The best tip is for parents, guardians and caregivers to show by example. Always be responsible when handling hot objects or fires. Demonstrate to kids how you work to keep yourself safe when cooking, grilling, household chores and more.
- People practice fire drills typically without the alarm—practicing with the fire alarm on can help prepare kids for the sound level and disorienting siren of the alarm in the event of a house fire.
For more information about fire safety or thermal burns, please visit our website at www.burncenters.com. If you are suffering from a thermal injury, please don’t wait to seek help. Call our experts 24/7 at (855) 863-9595 for your non-emergent needs. For emergencies, please call 911.
For more information on thermal burns, please click here.
For information on how to create a home fire escape plan, click here.
To watch a home fire survival and recovery story, please click here.