Burns and Electric Shock - Prevention

Most burns happen in the home. Simple safety measures decrease the chances of anyone getting burned.

Home safety measures

  • Do not smoke in bed.
  • Place smoke alarms and other fire safety devices in strategic locations in your home, such as in the kitchen and bedrooms and near fireplaces or stoves. Smoke detectors need to be checked and to have the batteries replaced regularly. A good way to remember to do this is to check smoke detectors twice a year when daylight savings and standard time change.
  • Make a fire escape plan, and make sure the family knows it (babysitters, too).
  • Keep a fire extinguisher near the kitchen and have it checked yearly. Learn how to use it. Put out food or grease fires in a pan with a lid or another pot.
  • Set your water heater at 120°F (49°C) or lower. Always test the temperature of bathwater.
  • Store cleaning solutions and paints in containers in well-ventilated areas.
  • Use proper fuses in electrical boxes, do not overload outlets, and use insulated and grounded electrical cords.
  • Keep trash cleaned up in attics, basements, and garages.
  • Be careful with gas equipment such as lawn mowers, snowblowers, and chain saws.
  • Be careful with any flammable substances used to start fires, such as lighter fluid.
  • Avoid fireworks. Think of safety first when dealing with fireworks.

Your local fire department is a good resource for more information on how to prevent fires, make a fire escape plan, use fire safety devices, and provide first-aid treatment for burns.


Child safety

Teach children safety rules for matches, fires, electrical outlets, electrical cords, stoves, and chemicals. Keep in mind child safety considerations. Prevention tips for children include the following:

  • Keep matches and flames, such as candles or lanterns, out of the reach of children. Keep small children away from stoves and ovens when you are cooking, and do not place pot handles where a child can reach them. Do not let children play with any small appliances such as curling irons, hair dryers, toasters, or heating pads.
  • Never hold a child while smoking or drinking a hot liquid, because any sudden movement by the child could cause a burn.
  • Never leave hot foods or liquids within reach of children, such as on the edges of tables or counters. Also, be cautious about leaving hot liquids on a table with a tablecloth that young children can reach and pull down.
  • Prevent electrical, chemical, friction, and heat burns in young children:
    • Keep electrical cords away from a child's reach. A child chewing on a cord could cause an electrical burn of the mouth. Cover electrical outlets so children will not stick items in the outlet.
    • Do not allow children to remove hot items from the oven or microwave. Use caution whenever heating baby bottles in the microwave so that the liquid does not get too hot. A liner may burst or a lid may not be secure, and when the bottle is tipped for feeding, the hot contents may burn the baby. For this reason, most doctors recommend that bottles not be heated in the microwave.
    • Store cleaning solutions and chemicals out of the reach of children.
    • Friction burns can cause small cuts and scrapes. Don't pull or drag your child across carpet while playing.
  • Teach children who are old enough to understand to stop, drop, and roll if their clothing catches on fire so they can help put out the flame and prevent getting burned more.
  • Buy children's sleepwear made of flame-retardant fabric. Dress children in flame- and fire-retardant clothing. Older adults need to be careful about wearing clothing with loose material that could catch on fire.
  • Keep woodstoves and fireplaces in good working condition, and use screens to keep children a safe distance away. Keep portable heaters, furnaces, water heaters, and small appliances in good working condition.

Reduce the risk of a lightning strike

In general, avoid placing camping tents under tall trees, near bodies of water, or on the highest hill in an area. Seek shelter in a covered area, such as a car, if you get caught outdoors in bad weather. If no shelter is available, lie on the ground in a ditch or take cover in a thick grove of trees, where lightning striking a single tree is unlikely.

  • Avoid handling metal or electrical objects.
  • Avoid or stop using any machines outdoors.
  • Get out of water and off of boats.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.