Facts about burn injury

According to the latest data available from the National Safe Kids Campaign and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), consider the following statistics:

  • Accidental, or unintentional, injury is the leading cause of death among children ages 14 and younger.
  • The five leading causes of accidental injury are burns, motor vehicle accidents, falls, poisonings, and drowning.
  • Burns and fires are the fourth most common cause of accidental death in children and adults, and account for nearly 4,500 adult and child deaths per year.
  • Nearly 75 percent of all burns in children are preventable.
  • More than 600 children die every year in fires, or from other burn injuries.
  • Toddlers and children are more often burned by a scalding or flames
  • The majority of children ages 4 and under who are hospitalized for burn-related injuries suffer from scalds burns (65 percent) or contact burns (20 percent).
  • Hot tap water burns cause more deaths and hospitalizations than burns from any other hot liquids.

Age Most Common Injury Type Risk Factors
<5 Years Flame Playing with matches, cigarette lighters, fires in fireplaces, barbecue pits, and trash fires.
  Scald  Kitchen injury from tipping scalding liquids.

Bathtub scalds often associated with lack of supervision or child abuse. Greatest number of pediatric burn patients are infants and toddlers younger than 3 years of age burned by scalding liquids. 
5 to 10 Years Flame Male children are at an increased risk often due to fire play and risk-taking behaviors.
  Scald Female children are at increased risk, with most burns occurring in the kitchen or bathroom.
Adolescent Flame Injury associated with male peer-group activities involving gasoline, or other flammable products.
  Scald Occurs most often in male adolescents involved in dare-type behaviors such as climbing utility poles or antennas. In rural areas, burns may be caused by moving irrigation pipes that touch an electrical source.

During the last 30 years, burn injuries have decreased by 50 percent in the US for the following reasons:

  • Increased use of smoke detectors
  • The flammability of consumer products, such as toys and pajamas, is federally regulated.
  • The US government monitors safety in the workplace
  • A greater national emphasis is placed on burn injury prevention and fire safety.
  • A decrease in smoking helps prevent burn injuries.
  • New water heaters in homes and in public areas are now preset at lower temperatures to reduce scald injuries.
  • There are fewer open fires
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