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Burn and Learn: National Burn Awareness Week Sheds Light on How to Prevent Burns

During the week of February 4 through February 10, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the American Burn Association seek to educate the public about burn prevention. This week-long awareness campaign creates an opportunity for parents to open a conversation with children about the dangers of hot surfaces, fire, and hot water.

The Eureka Fire Protection District wants to help residents keep their property and loved ones safe. Use our tips, statistics, and safety recommendations to learn more about burn risks and increase awareness.

Table of Contents;

About National Burn Awareness Week

Burn Injury Statistics

  • Causes of Third-Degree Burns

Burns in Children

  • Lighters and Matches: Tools, Never Toys!

Burn Safety in the Kitchen

How to Prevent Burns

About National Burn Awareness Week

National Burn Awareness Week is a public awareness campaign sponsored by the NFPA. The American Burn Association spearheaded this campaign and is now supported by fire departments, first responders, and medical professionals across the country. The theme for 2024’s campaign focuses on flammable liquid burns.

What are Flammable Liquids?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines flammable liquids as “...any liquid having a flashpoint at or below 199.4 °F (93 °C).” Most individuals understand that common fuels like gasoline are highly flammable. Still, many other chemicals and fluids in our homes also ignite easily when exposed to high temperatures or a flame.

Flammable liquids in cupboards, bathrooms, and kitchens include:

  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Hairspray

  • Nail polish remover

  • Paint thinner

  • Turpentine

  • Cooking oil

  • Aerosol cans (including many cooking sprays)

  • Lighter fluid 

Flammable Liquid Burns

All flammable liquids pose a burn risk because of their highly combustible properties. Unfortunately, individuals might not understand that the liquid is flammable, and they fail to take the precautions necessary to protect themselves. 

The danger of these liquids is that it isn’t the liquid itself that poses the risk; instead, the vapors of the liquid burn. If cooking oil is sprayed on a hot pan, this creates a highly combustible situation because the vapor of the spray has direct contact with a hot burner (or an ignited burner if the stove is fueled by natural gas).

Highly flammable liquids ignite flames that spread out of control quickly and without warning. An individual standing too close could sustain serious burns. 

Burn Injury Statistics

According to the American Burn Association, burns are one of the top contributors to unintentional death and injuries in the U.S. The Association also reports that nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of burn injuries cared for at burn centers were the result of an injury sustained in the home.

The ABA releases reports related to burn injuries and other statistics. The 2016 Burn Incidence Fact Sheet noted that: 

  • 486K people were treated for burns / burn injuries

  • 68 percent of admissions for burns were male / 32 percent were female

The chart below shows how burn injuries (for patients admitted to burn centers) correlate to a particular source:

Burn Injury Source

Percentage of Burn Center Admissions

Fire / Flame


Scald (Hot Liquids)










Causes of Third-Degree Burns

Numerous sources can lead to a third-degree burn, which is one of the most severe types of burns. A third-degree burn leads to deep damage to the skin, destroying numerous layers and sometimes causing nerve death/damage. Common sources of these burns include electrical, extremely (scalding) hot liquid, fire/flames, an extremely hot surface (like a stovetop), or chemicals. 

Burns in Children

Children are more susceptible to burns because their skin is thinner than adult skin. Contact with scalding water and severely hot surfaces could lead to more severe burns in a short amount of time. Johns Hopkins reports that scald burns are the most common causes of burns in young children, and contact burns are the second most common. 

Lighters and Matches: Tools, Never Toys!

Children and even tweens or teens can perceive lighters and matches as “fun” toys. Flicking the lighter looks cool. Unfortunately, playing with fire can lead to a disaster, resulting in an ER visit for severe burns or a home destroyed by a fire.

Teach children at a young age that fire is a tool but never a toy. Keep matches and lighters away for children, and help them understand that only an adult should use these tools. 

Burn Safety in the Kitchen

Many house fires originate in the kitchen. Cooking accidents can result in an accidental fire that quickly spreads to other parts of the home. Highly flammable cooking oils and grease from food also exacerbate the spread of a fire. 

Cooking burns are also common. Be safe and minimize your risk for injury by following these crucial safety tips:

  • Turn the handles of pots and pans inward. An accessible handle is easy for children to grab or can be knocked off a burner; the result is hot food or liquid burning the cook or a child and leading to serious injuries. 

  • Never use cooking sprays around a hot stove or oven

  • Keep cooking sprays in a cabinet or pantry away from heat sources

  • Teach children never to touch hot surfaces like stovetops, ovens, and even slow cookers and coffee makers

  • Don’t microwave cracked bowls or plates; moisture becomes trapped in cracks and heats up in the microwave; this results in the bowl or plate becoming extremely hot in the microwave

  • Never grab a hot dish from the oven with a wet oven mitt; the dampness diminishes the protective padding of the mitt; wait until the mitt dries before using it for grabbing hot items.

How to Prevent Burns

Burn Awareness Week ends on the 10th, but burn awareness should happen every day of the year. Minimize burn risk by understanding which liquids in the home are flammable; keep these liquids away from heat sources.

Educate children about fire safety. Teach them that matches, lighters, and candles are not toys; only adults should use these tools.

In the kitchen, position the pot handles inward to reduce spills and burns. Never use cooking sprays around heat sources, and help young children learn that hot surfaces are not for touching. 

The Eureka Fire Protection District wants to keep residents safe and help them feel empowered. A burn can happen to anyone; follow safety best practices and avoid the risks that increase the risk of serious burns and injuries.

About the Author:

Eureka Fire Protection District is an EMS, Fire, and Rescue service provider located in Eureka, Missouri. Staffed with nearly one hundred volunteer and career Paramedics, EMTs, Firefighters, Junior Firefighters, and administrative teams, the department provides its local community with fire prevention, education, safety resources, and emergency relief. Eureka Fire Protection District maintains a reputation as a well-run, high-performing fire department by keeping up to date with the latest in life-saving training and technology.

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