Did you know the first week in February is National Burn Awareness Week? It is an annual opportunity for burn care organizations, burn survivor support groups, and public safety professionals to increase awareness about burns, as well as the frequency and causes of burn injuries in America.
While fire safety during National Burn Awareness Week extends to sunburns, chemical burns, and contact burns from stoves, machinery, and other extremely hot items, the vast majority of burn injuries occur from fires. Did you know that studies now tell us that children, people with disabilities, and seniors are the most vulnerable?
In fact, more than 1,200 seniors aged 65 and older die each year as a result of fires, according to the American Burn Association. That is more than 25 percent of all fire deaths. Additionally, seniors between ages 65 and 75 have twice the fire death rate of the national average, and those between 75 and 85 years have three times the national average. People with disabilities, and then children, are a close second and third.
In honor of this week, let us share some important tips on fire safety during National Burn Awareness Week right here on our blog.
- Keep matches, lighters, and other ignitable substances in a secured location and out of the reach of children. Try to only use lighters with child-resistant features, and buy flameless candles whenever possible. Flameless candles contain light bulbs rather than an open flame, and thus eliminate the danger of an accidental fire by knocking over a candle or placing one too close to a flammable object.
- Seniors who live alone have a 30 percent or greater risk of unintentional fire-related injury, and two-thirds of burn injuries to elderly people occur when they are sleeping or trying to escape a fire. Therefore, two critical safety measures are smoke alarms and fire escape plans.
- Smoke alarms provide an early warning of a fire. Install them on every level of your home and inside bedrooms. Alarm systems with strobe lights and bed-shakers are especially helpful for seniors. Once a smoke alarm sounds, a fire can spread quickly and leave only a minute or two to escape, so make sure you have a fast, reliable home escape plan. Draw a map of your home, and:
- Plan two ways to escape from each room.
- Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.
- If you live in a multi-story building, plan to use the stairs. Never use the elevator.
- Designate an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home where others can find you.
- Practice your escape plan and ask others for help.
- Talk to children about a safety zone and fire safety during National Burn Awareness Week. A “safety zone” is a safe area that can prevent your child from getting too close to the flame. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association has a downloadable Kid Free Zone Activity sheet you may use in your household.
We know this blog may raise more questions than it answers. We encourage you to prepare now and make sure that fire safety and precautions are a part of your daily, household routine. Further, if you or someone you know has suffered a burn injury or would like more information about fire-related injuries and damage, do not wait to contact an experienced member of our local legal team to schedule a free case evaluation today.