Not all burns are caused by fire and many fire injuries are not burns

Blog Post created by martyahrens Employee on Feb 2, 2017

Every year, NFPA sponsors Fire Prevention Week. Our kindred organization, the American Burn Association’s National Burn Awareness Week runs from February 5-11.   This year, the focus is the Mechanisms of Burn or the M.O.B.  The MOB is a collection of unsavory characters including Larry “The Steamer” Liquids, Christy “the Flame” Candles” Thomas, “The Surface” Irons, William “The Wire” Electricity,” and Chris ”Hot Stuff” Chemicals. You can see the Wanted poster at .  

Most of our readers know that cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries and one of the leading causes of fire deaths.  Despite the fact that many of us have experienced minor burns while cooking, many people are surprised to learn that most burns associated with cooking equipment, cookware, and tableware in 2014 were caused by contact with a hot object or liquid rather than by fire or flame. The most common types of cooking burns occurred when someone came in contact with or touched a hot range or oven, followed by contact with hot cookware, cookware scalds and tableware scalds.  

In 2014, contact burns from hot ranges or ovens sent an estimated 16,800 people to emergency rooms.  Another 11,900 were burned by contact with hot cookware, 11,200 were seen for cookware scaldes and 7,800 were seen for tableware scalds.

Children under five face a higher risk of non-fire burns associated with cooking or tableware than of being burned in a cooking fire. Pre-schoolers accounted for three of every five tableware scalds. For more information, see NFPA’s Fact sheet on non-fire cooking burns.


NFPA’s report Characteristics of Home Fire Victims shows in 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments reported that that smoke inhalation was the primary apparent symptom in 40% of home fire deaths and 42% of home fire injuries. Forty-six percent of the deaths, and 13% of the injuries involved both burns and smoke inhalation. Only 5% of the deaths and one-quarter (24%) of the injuries were caused by thermal burns alone.

NFPA is grateful to the American Burn Association for getting the burn prevention message out there. Many safety tips can prevent fires and non-fire burns. For example, keeping young children three-feet away from hot kitchen stoves helps protect them from contact burns and scalds from pans of hot liquids.