According to the National Fire Prevention Association website, “Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres.”
The focus for this year’s Fire Prevention Week is all about kitchen fires, and the NFPA cites some scary stats that showcase why the kitchen is a great place to begin your home fire prevention strategy:
- U.S. Fire Departments responded to an estimated annual average of 156,600 cooking-related fires between 2007-2011, resulting in 400 civilian deaths, 5,080 civilian injuries and $853 million in direct damage.
- Two of every five home fires start in the kitchen.
- Unattended cooking was a factor in 34% of reported home cooking fires.
- Two-thirds of home cooking fires started with ignition of food or other cooking materials.
- Ranges accounted for the 58% of home cooking fire incidents. Ovens accounted for 16%.
- Children under five face a higher risk of non-fire burns associated with cooking than being burned in a cooking fire.
- Microwave ovens are one of the leading home products associated with scald burn injuries not related to fires. Nearly half (44%) of the microwave oven injuries seen at emergency rooms in 2011 were scald burns.
- Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1% of home cooking fires, but these incidents accounted for 16% of the cooking fire deaths.
The NFPA offers a number of downloadable resources and fact sheets on their website to help you prevent fires, and burn injuries, in your own home.
Dealing with Burn Injuries
Burns can inflict serious physical damage to the body. Typically caused by close exposure to high temperatures, chemical reactions, or electrical current, burns can vary in severity.
The larger the surface area burned, the greater the disruption of the skin’s ability to properly maintain body temperature. The deeper a burn goes into the skin and underlying tissue, the more likely the risk of infection. Burns involving the face, hands, genitals, and feet can result in the limitation of basic functions, such as movement and sensation.
Breathing air at high temperatures can create burns within the airway and result in serious breathing difficulty.
Minor burns include those that involve the outer layer of the skin and result in redness and pain. These include small burns that extend into the deeper layers of the skin and cause some blistering.
Rapid first aid treatment for these burns can provide immediate comfort and help prevent long-term complications. Cool the burn with cool water as soon as possible and continue cooling until the pain is relieved. This will reduce pain, swelling, and the depth of injury. Do not apply ice directly to cool a burn.
Leave any blisters intact and cover the burn with a loose sterile pad. Minor burns usually heal without further treatment.
Deep burns over a large area of the body are the most severe. These burns often result in extensive blistering and destruction of skin tissue.
Make sure the situation is safe for you to help then activate EMS immediately. Expose the affected area by cutting or tearing away clothing. If any clothing is stuck to the burn, do not remove it. If present, remove any jewelry near the burned area.
Separate fingers or toes with dry, sterile, non-adhesive dressings. Do not apply butter, ointment, lotion, or antiseptic. Loosely cover the burn area with a dry, clean pad or clean sheet, if the burned area is large.
Give the person nothing to eat or drink. While awaiting EMS, monitor the airway for swelling from inhalation of smoke or hot gases.
If someone is on fire, tell the person to STOP, DROP, and ROLL. Try to smother flames with a coat, rug, or blanket, or douse them with water.
Burns, choking, CPR—it’s all covered in your emergency care training class. Find one near you today!