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Fire Remains a Leading Cause of Death for Children

As the weather starts to turn colder, the risk of fires increases significantly. Nationwide, 457 children ages 14 and under died in 2007 due to unintentional fire- and burn-related injuries, and 96,756 more were injured.

Approximately 80 percent of all fire-related deaths and injuries occur in the home, and young children are at a particularly high risk because they don’t perceive danger as readily and can lack the ability to escape a life-threatening fire situation.

Keep your family safe by following these important fire and burn safety tips:

  • Keep matches, gasoline, lighters and all other flammable materials locked away, out of children’s reach.
  • Keep children away from cooking and heating appliances, and never leave the kitchen while you are cooking. Use back burners and turn pot handles to the back of the stove when cooking.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Place candles in a safe location away from combustible materials and where children or pets cannot tip them over.
  • Place space heaters at least 3 feet from curtains, papers, furniture and other flammable materials. Always turn space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Test all smoke alarms every month and change the batteries once a year, even if they are hard-wired. Smoke alarms are also available with 10-year lithium batteries.
  • Consider a home sprinkler system. The combination of smoke alarms and sprinklers can reduce your chances of dying in a fire by 82 percent.
  • Set your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Consider installing water faucets and shower heads containing anti-scald technology.

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Sylvia Scholl is WakeMed’s Trauma Program Director.