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Stay Safety Smart!® – identify home hot spots to prevent burn hazards

NORTHBROOK, Ill., Oct. 5, 2009 - Everyday household routines - such as boiling water for the family dinner, giving your child a bath or leaving burning candles within reach of a child - can potentially cause burns to you or your child if not done safely. As part of this year's Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 4 - 10, 2009), Underwriters Laboratories (UL) - the leading product safety organization - is helping families identify potential burn hazards around the home that parents may overlook, and providing them with easy-to-remember burn prevention tips.

According to national burn statistics, approximately 2.4 million burn injuries are reported every year. What's more, the kitchen, bathroom and living room could be considered the home's top "hot spots," as four out of every five burn incidents occur in one of these action-packed areas. 

"It only takes a few seconds for a small child to grab a boiling pot of water off a stove or a burning candle off a living room table," says John Drengenberg, director of Consumer Safety at Underwriters Laboratories. "Potential accidents - like fires and burns - may be just one distraction away, but can be prevented if you consider safety in your family's everyday routines. Identifying the burn hazards within your home's hot spots and taking steps to minimize potential danger is another great step toward being Safety Smart!®."

Home Hot Spot Highlight: Kitchen

One of the main hot spots in the kitchen is the stove top. If unsupervised, curious children could suffer serious burns. To mitigate potential stove top burn hazards, UL recommends:

  • Create a kid-free zone in the kitchen. Parents should keep kids about three feet away from the stove - if possible - while cooking. Better yet, parents could have children do homework or chores to earn allowance to keep them out of the kitchen altogether while preparing meals.
  • Keep the pots in back. Cook on the back burners. Never leave a pot on the stove within reach of a child as children have a tendency to reach up and grab anything in their line of sight.

Home Hot Spot Highlight: Bathroom

Hot tap water scald burns cause more deaths and hospitalizations than any other type of hot liquid burn, like burns from coffee or hot soup. Tap water burns happen most often in the bathroom and tend to be more severe and cover a larger portion of the body than other scald burns. To lessen the potential of getting burned by scalding bathroom tap water, UL recommends:

  • Set your water heater to 120°F or less. To avoid accidental scalds, make sure your water heater's temperature is set below 120°F or set to "low." Anything above that temperature can cause severe burns within seconds.
  • Test the bath water first. Before bath time, make sure your child's bath water isn't too hot. An adult should be able to place his or her arm in the water for 30 seconds without discomfort. If the water is too hot for you, it's too hot for your child. To cool the bath water down, run some cold water before your child gets in.

Home Hot Spot Highlight: Family Room

According to the National Fire Protection Association, candle fires cause approximately 15,000 home fires a year. Additionally, in the U.S., an average of seven children per day are treated in emergency rooms for injuries due to unsafe interaction with electrical outlets. To decrease the chance of children getting burned in the family room, UL recommends:

  • Blow out candles before leaving a room! Be aware of burning candles throughout the house and always blow them out before leaving a room. If you have children or pets running around the house, a candle can easily be knocked down and start a fire.
  • Cover electrical outlets. Sticking things like fingers or toys into an electrical outlet can cause an electrical burn. Make sure to cover all electrical outlets with outlet covers so children aren't tempted to play with them.

"For many, the psychological effects of burns can stay with you long after scars fade," says Drengenberg. "Stay Safety Smart by using UL's burn prevention tips and exercising extreme caution in and around your home's hot spots."

For a complete burn prevention and fire safety check list, visit our Consumers section.