Burn injuries are the third leading cause of fatal accidents occurring at home. Each year, 450,000 people in the United States require medical treatment for burns, and 3,500 perish from burn injuries. While these fires sometimes originate with a short circuit or a misfiring appliance, a large number of them are the result of tragic human errors. However, if the following conditions are avoided, so can the misfortune that accompanies home burn injuries.
1. Alcohol Use
While there is a variety of ways to sustain a burn injury of some kind in the home, it is believed that alcohol use contributes to 40% of fatal home fires. While intoxication does not make a person more likely to start a fire, they are more likely to die if one ignites while they are inside. Impaired judgment is inconvenient in any context; in a fire, it can be deadly.
2. Absence of Smoke Alarms
It is estimated that 37% of deaths caused by fires occur in homes without smoke alarms. While they may seem like a small precaution for a remote possibility, smoke alarms reduce by half your chances of a fatal burn injury in a home fire. Smoke alarms should be placed throughout the house (excluding the kitchen) and checked regularly.
3. Unattended Children
Each year, 600 children under 14 sustain fatal burns, and 47,000 sustain nonfatal burn injuries. Eighty-five percent of these are scalds or contact burns. Scalds commonly result when bathwater is too hot or a pot of boiling liquid is knocked over. Heaters, irons, and lamps cause many contact burns. Young children should be kept well away from these hazards before they are old enough to act responsibly.
4. No Fire Escape Plan
In a mere 30 seconds, a small fire in the house can become out of control; and not all fires start in the kitchen. Parents should establish fire escape procedures from every room of the house and practice them frequently to engrain important protocol well before the time comes for it to be followed.
A lit cigarette endangers more than the long-term health of the human lung; when dropped, a cigarette can ignite furniture, drapery, etc. in little time. In fact, smoking is the leading cause of deaths from home fires. A cigarette may be small, but its potential for damage is enormous; and it should therefore be kept in an ashtray when left alone and properly disposed of after use.
Cooking is the primary cause of most residential fires. There are not many ways to avoid cooking, but several simple practices can make it much safer: check your food periodically, set timers, keep flammable fabrics away from the stove top, and keep grease traps clean.
For standard house fires, these precautions should be adequate. Unfortunately, your equipment, other people, etc. are not always as fastidious as you are. Sometimes one of the human errors that cause so many residential fires annually may lead you or someone you love to a struggle with burn injury. In the event that this struggle extends into your compensation claim, personal injury attorneys like Christensen & Hymas in Draper can help you determine your next move. For more information, call their office toll-free at (801) 506-0800.
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