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Burn Center

Safe Home

About 43 percent of all burn injuries occur in the home. Common sense and simple precautions can prevent many of these injuries.

If there are children in your home, please see Safe Kids for more things you can do to prevent burn injuries to children.

The following tips will help you start to make your home safer:

Dropped cigarettes are the leading cause of fire fatalities. If you must smoke, do not smoke in bed. Use large, sturdy ashtrays and make sure smoking materials are completely extinguished. Wet down ashes, matches and butts before you empty ashtrays. Never smoke around flammable liquids or aerosol cans such as hairspray.  If smoking outside, never throw a lit cigarette into bushes or grass, where it could start a fire.

Cook and serve safely. Never leave cooking food unattended. Keep all pot handles turned back, away from the stove edge. Keep appliance cords coiled and away from counter edges. Always use oven mitts or potholders when moving pots of hot liquid or food. Be careful when lifting pot lids; steam can cause serious burns. Always follow manufacturer and food label instructions when using a microwave.  (Steam builds rapidly in microwave containers and reaches temperatures above 200 degrees, which can easily result in burns to the face, arms and hands.) At mealtime, place hot items in the center of the table. Use non-slip placements instead of tablecloths— hot food may spill if a tablecloth is pulled or tugged.

Use electricity carefully. Do not overload outlets, power strips or multi-plug adapters.  Extension cords should be a temporary convenience, not a long-term solution to a shortage of outlets. . If you use an extension cord, plug the appliance into the cord first, and then plug the cord into the outlet. If an extension cord feels hot to the touch, disconnect and discard it. If an outlet feels hot to the touch, it is a fire hazard; unplug all appliances and contact an electrician. Do not cover cords with carpets, and never use staples to hold an electrical cord in place. If you use halogen light bulbs, remember that these bulbs are intensely hot (up to 1100? F). Use these bulbs only in a lamp approved by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) for halogen bulbs, and make sure that the lamp does not touch any combustible materials such as curtains, papers and clothes.

Follow appliance safety guidelines. Disconnect appliances by pulling on the plug, not the cord. Never break off a plug’s grounding post; if your appliance has a grounding plug but your wall outlet does not, make sure you use an approved adapter. Do not use electrical appliances in or near showers or bathtubs. Turn off all electrical appliances that produce heat, such as curling irons, clothes irons hot plates and stoves, when you leave a room. Check electrical cords for wear; if a cord is frayed or cracked, replace it. Replace any appliance—including tools—if they cause even small electrical shocks, overheat, short out or give off smoke or sparks

Be realistic about do-it-yourself projects.  Most home electricity projects are best left to professionals who understand how to repair and replace wiring and major electrical components so that electrical systems comply with all local building and safety codes. Always turn off circuit breakers and test circuits to make sure they are de-energized before starting any home project that includes electricity—for example, replacing a porch light fixture. When doing outside work that requires significant digging, such as putting in fence posts or planting trees, call your electric utility to make sure of the placement of underground lines.

To learn more, visit the American Burn Association Web site at www.ameriburn.org.

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