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Fire Accidents and Burn Injury Statistics

Fires and other accidents involving burn injuries can be tremendously painful and often leave behind permanent scars. Excision, skin grafts, and physical therapy for burn patients can mean a long recovery and extensive pain. Personal injury claims involving fires and burns are often filed on behalf of people who have been burned as a result of another person’s negligence.

Effects of Burn Injuries

A burn is an injury to the flesh, tissue, or skin caused by fire, electricity, or excessive friction. A burn can also be caused by chemicals (acid) or radiation. Based on the severity of tissue damage, burns are classified as first or second degree (also called partial-thickness burns), third degree (full-thickness burns), or fourth degree.

Burn survivors must often cope with permanent injuries including:

  • Disfigurement
  • Hearing or sight impairment
  • Mobility impairment
  • Paralysis

Surgeries and time spent in burn treatment units can result in large medical bills in addition to any time lost from missed work.  Severe burn survivors are sometimes injured too badly to return to their jobs.

Fire Accident and Burn Injury Statistics

  • Burn injuries are the #2 leading cause of all accidental deaths in the US, behind automobile accidents
  • Estimated annual burn injury hospitalizations: 40,000 (30,000 at burn treatment centers)
  • Nearly 800 people die each year in fires started by cigarettes
    • Cigarettes are the leading cause of fire-related fatalities
    • The majority of chemical burns are occupational or occur within the workplace
    • Electrical cords and extension cords cause nearly 60% of electrical burn injuries (from electrocution) to children ages 12 and under
    • An average of nearly 600 children ages 14 and under die in residential fires each year, 65% of which are children ages 4 and under
    • Place of Burn Occurrence:
      • 70% Home
      • 9% Occupational
      • 7% Street/highway/automobile
      • 4% Recreation/sports
      • <9% Other/Misc.
      • The average medical cost of treating a patient with burns on 30% of the body (2nd-3rd degree) is approximately $200,000.
      • Most children ages 4 and younger who are hospitalized for burns suffer from:
        • 65% – Scald Burns (Hot tap water, bathtub)
        • 20% – Contact Burns (curling irons, clothing irons, stovetops, room/space heaters)
        • 15%- Other (misc. open flame source)
        • Recovery time from serious burns (therapy, follow-up, healing) ranges from six to 24 months
        • The average length of stay in a hospital burn unit if 1 day per 1% of body surface burned
        • Secondary infection is the leading cause of death from non-fatal burns

Fire Accident Prevention – Smoke Alarm Statistics

  • Homes without any working smoke alarms are two times as likely to experience a fire
  • 2/3 of fatal residential fires involving children occur in homes without a working smoke alarm
  • Over 70% of fire-related deaths in the home are caused by smoke and toxic gas inhalation, not from actual flames
  • Install and test smoke alarms regularly. Studies have proven that smoke alarms save lives
  • Recent surveys revealed that only 3 out of 4 homes had at least one working smoke detector
  • Installing just one functional smoke alarm in a home reduces the chance of a residential fire-related fatality by 50%

References:

American Burn Association

University of Rochester Medical Center

TOMA Foundation