Burn prevention

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Eman Alademi, M.D.[2]


Education, engineering, and enforcement are often recommended as both a possible prevention and a sensible way of managing the burn injury. Combination of prevention and care strategies have made progress reducing the incidence of burn injuries and burn severity and lowering rates of burn death and length of hospital stay.

Primary Prevention

To help prevent burns:[1][2]

  • Install household smoke alarms. Check and change batteries regularly.[3][4][5]
  • Fireworks[6]
  • Flame-retardant materials[7][8]
  • Low ignition propensity cigarettes[9][10]
  • Reducing self-harm: teach children about fire safety and the hazards of matches and fireworks.[11][12]
  • Keep children from climbing on top of a stove or grabbing hot items like irons and oven doors.[13][14][15]
  • Kitchen stoves and lamps[16],Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so that children can't grab them and they can't be accidentally knocked over.[17]
  • Place fire extinguishers in key locations at home, work, and school.
  • Remove electrical cords from floors and keep them out of reach.
  • Know about and practice fire escape routes at home, work, and school.[18]
  • Set the temperature of a water heater to 120 degrees or less.[19][20]


General prevention includes the following:[21]

  • Do not touch electrical appliances (or anything electrical) with wet hands, while standing in or immersed in water, or while showering.
  • Cover unused electrical outlets with child safety plugs.
  • Use a power strip for multiple cords; do not overload sockets.
  • Protect electrical cords by placing through appropriate conduits and away from children and pets.
  • Do not use frayed or broken electrical cords or plugs.
  • Remove plugs by gently pulling the plug from the outlet, rather than pulling directly on the cord.

Lifestyle and home remedies(secondary prevention)

To treat minor burns, follow these steps:[22]

  • Cool the burn. apply a cool water (not cold) , wet compress until the pain eases. Don't use ice. Putting ice directly on a burn can cause further damage to the tissue[23].
  • Remove rings or other tight items. Try to do this quickly and gently, before the burned area swells.
  • Don't break blisters. Fluid-filled blisters protect against infection. If a blister breaks, clean the area with water (mild soap is optional). Apply an antibiotic ointment. But if a rash appears, stop using the ointment.
  • Apply lotion. Once a burn is completely cooled, apply a lotion, such as one that contains aloe vera or a moisturizer. This helps prevent drying and provides relief.
  • Bandage the burn. Cover the burn with a sterile gauze bandage (not fluffy cotton). Wrap it loosely to avoid putting pressure on burned skin. Bandaging keeps air off the area, reduces pain and protects blistered skin.[24]
  • Take a pain reliever. Over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), can help relieve pain.
  • Consider a tetanus shot. Make sure that your tetanus booster is up to date. Doctors recommend that people get a tetanus shot at least every 10 years.

Whether your burn was minor or serious, use sunscreen and moisturizer regularly once the wound is healed.[25][26][27]


  1. DiGuiseppi C, Higgins JP (2000). "Systematic review of controlled trials of interventions to promote smoke alarms". Arch Dis Child. 82 (5): 341–8. doi:10.1136/adc.82.5.341. PMC 1718310. PMID 10799419.
  2. Rybarczyk MM, Schafer JM, Elm CM, Sarvepalli S, Vaswani PA, Balhara KS; et al. (2016). "Prevention of burn injuries in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review". Burns. 42 (6): 1183–92. doi:10.1016/j.burns.2016.04.014. PMID 27161088.
  3. Liao CC, Rossignol AM (2000). "Landmarks in burn prevention". Burns. 26 (5): 422–34. doi:10.1016/s0305-4179(00)00026-7. PMID 10812263.
  4. Atiyeh BS, Costagliola M, Hayek SN (2009). "Burn prevention mechanisms and outcomes: pitfalls, failures and successes". Burns. 35 (2): 181–93. doi:10.1016/j.burns.2008.06.002. PMID 18926639.
  5. Atiyeh BS, Costagliola M, Hayek SN (2009). "Burn prevention mechanisms and outcomes: pitfalls, failures and successes". Burns. 35 (2): 181–93. doi:10.1016/j.burns.2008.06.002. PMID 18926639.
  6. Puri V, Mahendru S, Rana R, Deshpande M (2009). "Firework injuries: a ten-year study". J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 62 (9): 1103–11. doi:10.1016/j.bjps.2007.12.080. PMID 18603491.
  7. Liao CC, Rossignol AM (2000). "Landmarks in burn prevention". Burns. 26 (5): 422–34. doi:10.1016/s0305-4179(00)00026-7. PMID 10812263.
  8. Atiyeh BS, Costagliola M, Hayek SN (2009). "Burn prevention mechanisms and outcomes: pitfalls, failures and successes". Burns. 35 (2): 181–93. doi:10.1016/j.burns.2008.06.002. PMID 18926639.
  9. Brunnemann KD, Hoffmann D, Gairola CG, Lee BC (1994). "Low ignition propensity cigarettes: smoke analysis for carcinogens and testing for mutagenic activity of the smoke particulate matter". Food Chem Toxicol. 32 (10): 917–22. doi:10.1016/0278-6915(94)90090-6. PMID 7959447.
  10. Alpert HR, Christiani DC, Orav EJ, Dockery DW, Connolly GN (2014). "Effectiveness of the cigarette ignition propensity standard in preventing unintentional residential fires in Massachusetts". Am J Public Health. 104 (4): e56–61. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301837. PMC 4025697. PMID 24524537.
  11. Cox SG, Burahee A, Albertyn R, Makahabane J, Rode H (2016). "Parent knowledge on paediatric burn prevention related to the home environment". Burns. 42 (8): 1854–1860. doi:10.1016/j.burns.2016.05.015. PMID 27325218.
  12. Heard JP, Latenser BA, Liao J (2013). "Burn prevention in Zambia: a work in progress". J Burn Care Res. 34 (6): 598–606. doi:10.1097/BCR.0b013e3182a2aa27. PMID 24043246.
  13. Forjuoh SN (2006). "Burns in low- and middle-income countries: a review of available literature on descriptive epidemiology, risk factors, treatment, and prevention". Burns. 32 (5): 529–37. doi:10.1016/j.burns.2006.04.002. PMID 16777340.
  14. Daisy S, Mostaque AK, Bari TS, Khan AR, Karim S, Quamruzzaman Q (2001). "Socioeconomic and cultural influence in the causation of burns in the urban children of Bangladesh". J Burn Care Rehabil. 22 (4): 269–73. doi:10.1097/00004630-200107000-00004. PMID 11482685.
  15. Peleg K, Goldman S, Sikron F (2005). "Burn prevention programs for children: do they reduce burn-related hospitalizations?". Burns. 31 (3): 347–50. doi:10.1016/j.burns.2004.10.028. PMID 15774292.
  16. Sharma NP, Duke JM, Lama BB, Thapa B, Dahal P, Bariya ND; et al. (2015). "Descriptive Epidemiology of Unintentional Burn Injuries Admitted to a Tertiary-Level Government Hospital in Nepal: Gender-Specific Patterns". Asia Pac J Public Health. 27 (5): 551–60. doi:10.1177/1010539515585386. PMID 25957289.
  17. Schwebel DC, Swart D, Simpson J, Hobe P, Hui SK (2009). "An intervention to reduce kerosene-related burns and poisonings in low-income South African communities". Health Psychol. 28 (4): 493–500. doi:10.1037/a0014531. PMID 19594274.
  18. Greenbaum AR, Donne J, Wilson D, Dunn KW (2004). "Intentional burn injury: an evidence-based, clinical and forensic review". Burns. 30 (7): 628–42. doi:10.1016/j.burns.2004.03.019. PMID 15475134.
  19. Erdmann TC, Feldman KW, Rivara FP, Heimbach DM, Wall HA (1991). "Tap water burn prevention: the effect of legislation". Pediatrics. 88 (3): 572–7. PMID 1881739.
  20. Makhubalo O, Schulman D, Rode H, Cox S (2018). "Acceptability and functionality of the "Kettle Strap": An attempt to decrease kettle related burns in children". Burns. 44 (5): 1361–1365. doi:10.1016/j.burns.2018.04.013. PMID 29776861.
  21. Baxter CR, Waeckerle JF (1988). "Emergency treatment of burn injury". Ann Emerg Med. 17 (12): 1305–15. doi:10.1016/s0196-0644(88)80356-1. PMID 3057947.
  22. Ptacek JT, Patterson DR, Montgomery BK, Heimbach DM (1995). "Pain, coping, and adjustment in patients with burns: preliminary findings from a prospective study". J Pain Symptom Manage. 10 (6): 446–55. doi:10.1016/0885-3924(95)00083-b. PMID 7561227.
  23. Pushkar NS, Sandorminsky BP (1982). "Cold treatment of burns". Burns Incl Therm Inj. 9 (2): 101–10. doi:10.1016/0305-4179(82)90056-0. PMID 7150995.
  24. Weinberg K, Birdsall C, Vail D, Marano MA, Petrone SJ, Mansour EH (2000). "Pain and anxiety with burn dressing changes: patient self-report". J Burn Care Rehabil. 21 (2): 155–6, discussion 157-61. doi:10.1097/00004630-200021020-00013. PMID 10752749.
  25. Sambandan DR, Ratner D (2011). "Sunscreens: an overview and update". J Am Acad Dermatol. 64 (4): 748–58. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2010.01.005. PMID 21292345.
  26. Neale R, Williams G, Green A (2002). "Application patterns among participants randomized to daily sunscreen use in a skin cancer prevention trial". Arch Dermatol. 138 (10): 1319–25. doi:10.1001/archderm.138.10.1319. PMID 12374537.
  27. Petersen B, Wulf HC (2014). "Application of sunscreen--theory and reality". Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 30 (2–3): 96–101. doi:10.1111/phpp.12099. PMID 24313722.

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