Burn Injury and Prevention Tips

February 5, 2024

Nearly 50% of all home fires are caused while cooking, according to the American Burn Association (ABA). Many times, it’s due to unattended cooking. February is a good month to be reminded of ways you can keep you and your family safe from burn injuries with simple prevention tips and resources.

Burn Awareness Week is Feb. 4 - 10 and this year’s theme focuses on flammable liquid burns. According to the ABA, most burns associated with cooking from 2013 to2017 were caused by contact with a hot object or liquid rather than by fire or flame.

Home to the only burn center in the region, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist sees patients from not only North Carolina, but several other states. In many cases, injuries could have been easily prevented.

“I realize that life comes with risks, but if people stop and think first about what they’re doing, they can easily avoid a painful injury or even death,” said Dr. James H. Holmes IV, burn surgeon and medical director of Wake Forest Baptist’s Burn Center and professor of surgery at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “Even though we provide exceptional care here at Wake Forest Baptist’s Burn Center, you don’t want to be our patient.”

While most first- and second-degree burns heal with simple wound care, third-degree burns usually require skin grafts and expert care from a burn center.

Holmes shares the following tips to help your family stay safe and avoid a trip to the Burn Center:

  • Teach children to stay away from the stove, the fireplace and the barbecue grill. Keep a safe zone around them.
  • When cooking with pots and pans, turn the handles inward over the stove top.
  • Keep coffee pots and other hot liquids out of reach and away from the edge of the counter.
  • Always keep candles out of the reach of children. Place them in a stable holder and extinguish them before leaving the room or going to bed.
  • In the event of a power outage, never use a gas stove for heat.
  • If using a kerosene heater, understand and follow the instructions.
  • Set the temperature on your hot water heater to 120 degrees or less.
  • Make sure your home is equipped with working smoke detectors.
  • When cooking, wear short sleeves or tight-fitting sleeves to avoid catching clothes on fire.

Practice an exit plan with your family. Taking the time for a fire drill could save your life or the lives of your children.

“These tips seem simple enough, but it is easy to get distracted,” Holmes said. “Having a plan in place and implementing these in your everyday life can make a difference and potentially save you from an unfortunate accident.” 

Media contacts: 

Jenna Kurzyna, jkurzyna@wakehealth.edu
Joe McCloskey, jmcclosk@wakehealth.edu