Safety Tip of the Month
February 2019

Burn Awareness Week, observed the first full week in February, is an opportunity to share statistics and tips to raise burn awareness and prevention in our communities.

Did you know…
  • Approximately every minute, someone in the United States sustains a burn injury serious enough to require treatment.  (Estimated 486,000 injuries/year or i.e., a burn injury every 65 seconds.)
  • Each day over 300 children are seen in emergency rooms and 2 children die from burn injuries.
  • Children < 16 years old represent approximately 26% of all admissions to burn center hospitals.
  • An estimated 376,950 scald burn injuries associated with consumer household appliances and products (e.g., stoves, coffee makers, tableware, cookware, bathtubs, etc.) were seen in hospital emergency rooms in the U.S. between 2013-2017; 78,526 (21%) of these occurred to children 4 years old and younger.
  • Children are at particularly high risk for burn injuries due to their immature motor and cognitive skills, inability to self-rescue, and dependence on adults for supervision and danger-avoidance interventions.
  • Older adults are similarly more vulnerable due to decreased reaction time, impaired mobility, and effects of pre-existing health conditions.
  • Infants/toddlers and elderly adults have thinner dermal layers compared to persons of other ages, leading to deeper burn injuries at lower temperatures or shorter exposure times.
  • Hot water will burn skin at temperatures much lower than boiling point (212°F). In fact, it only takes 3 seconds of exposure to 140°F water to cause a burn serious enough to require surgery! So set water heaters at 120°F or just below the medium setting. A safe bathing temperature is 100°F.
  • Dangerously high water temperatures were found in 41% of inspected urban homes, with rental properties at greater risk for unsafe levels.
  • 85 – 90% of scald burns are related to cooking/drinking/serving hot liquids.
  • Coffee is often served at 175°F, making it high-risk for causing immediate severe scald burns when spilled or pulled down.
  • In children under 5 years of age, approximately 27 – 60% of scalds occur from cups/mugs/tableware containing hot liquids; most commonly from a pull-down (48%) or spill (32%).13 •
  • An estimated 9 – 30% of cooking-related burn injuries occur to young children while pulling hot food/liquids from microwave ovens. A study found that 90% of 2-year-olds can turn-on microwaves, open the door, and remove hot contents.
  • An overwhelming 85% majority of scald burns occur in the home…In children < 5 years of age, the in-home injury rate increases to 95%.
  • Scald burns (from hot water, other liquids, and steam) comprise 35% of overall burn injuries admitted to U.S. burn centers.3 However, 61% of these occur to children less than 5 years old. • While the proportionate rate of scald burn injuries in older adults is comparable to all others > 16 years old, the risk of complications (i.e., a marker of morbidity) and mortality
  • A national survey revealed almost half (44%) of respondents do not believe burns are a serious danger in their home, despite the fact that 75% reported they or a family member had suffered a burn injury at home.18 Although it is well documented that young children are at higher risk for scald injuries, 40% of those surveyed erroneously believed that older children and adults were at higher risk.