Kids Safety: Fireplace and Fire-Related Injuries December 3, 2019
During the winter and holiday season, the number of fireplace and fire-related injuries that occur increase. Infants, children, and teens are particularly prone to getting hurt in fire and fireplace-related incidents, so it is important to take precautions around the house.
There are a variety of common causes behind fires and burn injuries. According to Stanford Children’s Health (SCH), some of the most common ones include:
- Home cooking equipment,
- Smoking materials, like cigarettes,
- Hot food and liquid spills in the kitchen,
- Room heaters, curling irons, and hair curlers, and:
- Gasoline, fireworks, ovens and ranges
Where and When Most Fires Happen
Altogether, fires kill approximately 500 children ages 14 and younger every year. The majority of fires that kill or injure children are residential and occur during the colder months (December-February). Nearly one-third of children hurt or killed in a fire are not old enough to react appropriately to the situation – and more than half of children under 5-years-old who die in a fire were asleep when it started.
Some children face higher risks for fire-related death and injury than others do. The highest risk children are those living in homes without working smoke alarms and children under the age of 5-years-old. Children in this age group are more than two-times as likely to die in a fire than individuals from any other age group. Having a combined smoke alarm and automatic sprinkler system set up can reduce fire-related deaths by as much as 82% and injuries by nearly 50%.
Safety Tips for Preventing Fire-Related Injury and Death
A 3rd degree burn causes an injury that extends to all layers of the skin – and sometimes even into the muscle, bone, or subcutaneous (under the skin) tissue. According to Safe Kids Worldwide (SKW), 3rd degree burns can happen in less than 1 second simply from contact with the glass installed in front of gas fireplaces. Most fire-related deaths result from inhaling the toxic smoke and fumes that fires produce, whereas flames and burns account for around 30% of injuries and fatalities.
Luckily, taking precautions can drastically reduce the number of fire-related injuries and deaths that occur. SKW recommends safeguarding infants, children, and teen against these injuries by taking the following safety measures:
- Keep fireplace remote controls out of children’s reach and eyesight – and make sure kids stay away from any on and off switches for gas fireplaces,
- Make sure that your home is equipped with working smoke alarms and if possible, automatic sprinkler systems,
- Remember to think about places outside of the home that have fireplaces (e.g. hotels, restaurants, resorts, other homes, etc.) and teach children not to touch them or get too close,
- Ensure that home fireplaces have safety screens or gates, and:
- Supervise children around fireplaces or open flames/cooking equipment in the kitchen
To read more about preventing fire and fireplace-related injuries in children from SKW, you can visit: https://www.safekids.org/infographic/fireplace-safety-infographic. Anytime there is an emergency, please call 9-1-1 right away.
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