There are many potential causes of burn injuries in the modern American home. Burn injuries were listed by the CDC, the Center for Disease Control, as the fifth most common cause of preventable deaths in 2005. The number of people seeking care for burn injuries is around 2 million each year, although many may treat lesser burn injuries by themselves and such as the real number of burn injuries may be much higher. The term “burn” is somewhat generic as heat, chemicals, electricity, radioactivity exposure and sunlight can cause the skin to develop a burn like injury.


Household fires are a major cause of home burn injuries each year. Over 80% of non-military fire deaths are due to a household fire. Household fires may be caused by cooking accidents, improper use of space heaters, and smoking. In fact, smoking is the most common cause of household fires. While household fires often cause a range of severe burns, smoke inhalation is the number one cause of death from household fires. A smoke detector can often be life saving if installed and maintained properly by checking the batteries at least twice a year.


In the home, burns are often caused by thermal injury which may be due to exposure to hot water, cigarettes, hot grease and hot beverages. Children and the elderly are often victims of burns because they might not realize how hot an item is, or may accidentally spill a pot of hot food on themselves in the kitchen. All parents of young children are recommended to keep hot pots and pans out of the reach of children. This may mean turning the pot handles away from the front of the stove, and using the back burners instead of the front burners. Children should not be allowed to play in a kitchen when a parent is cooking. A small child can be burned if placed into a bath tub with water that is too hot. Only lukewarm water should be used when bathing infants.Hot cups of coffee, or cups of any hot liquid, left on a counter top are also a source of burns as children can easily knock these over on to themselves. Moving these items out of the reach of children can decrease the chance of a serious burn.


Electrical hazards are a major source of burns in the home. You should have a professional electrician check your home every nine years to determine if there are any electrical hazards. Chemical burns can be caused by exposure to caustic chemicals, such as those used in cleaning products. To avoid chemical burns, keep all caustic and dangerous liquids and powders locked in a safe place and out of the reach of children. Matches and lighters should also be kept in a locked cabinet away from children.