In Prevention

According to the American Burn Association (ABA), every year over 450,000 serious burn injuries occur in the United States that require medical treatment.  The ABA reported “in 2014 alone, there were 3,275 recorded deaths from fire and smoke inhalation injuries.”  According to a 2016 report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the total costs for the treatment of burns in 2010 was $1.5 billion, with another $5 billion in costs associated with lost work.  The vast majority of these injuries were preventable.  This is why the American Burn Association has designated February 2nd, 2020 to February 8th, 2020 as National Burn Awareness Week.

The theme for National Burn Awareness Week 2020 is Contact Burns.  Contact burns are thermal burns where the person has come into direct contact with hot objects.  Examples include burns from contact with a hot stove or pan and burns from contact with portable heating appliances.  Other types of burns include burns from flames, scalds, steam, flash burns (such as explosions or lightning), inhalation, chemical, electrical, and radiation burns.

“The mission of the ABA is to improve the lives of everyone affected by burn injury. The best way to do this is to prevent the burn in the first place,” says ABA Executive Director Kimberly Hoarle.  “The hope with National Burn Awareness Week is that we can spread the word about the risks of burn injury and steps that people can take to avoid these risks to prevent burn injury for themselves and their children.”

Lori Mickelson, RN, Program Manager for the University of Wisconsin Hospital Burn Center, reported that between July 1st, 2018 and June 30th, 2019, there were a total of 402 patients admitted to the burn center. These admissions for contact burns included:

1: unspecified hot objects
5: running hot water
3: other specified machinery
3: other powered household machinery
1: other hot tap-water
36: other hot fluids
22: other heat and hot substances
12: hot stove (kitchen)
6: hot heating appliances, radiators and pipes
25: hot food
5: hot engines, machinery and tools
1: hot fluids, undetermined intent
24: hot drinks
20: fats and cooking oils

Fire Fighters make great efforts to teach fire prevention, especially during Fire Prevention Week.  Fire department personnel could easily combine burn prevention materials to their Community Risk Reduction (CRR) presentations.  For shareable burn prevention resources, follow the American Burn Association on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.  Membership information, as well as information about National Burn Awareness Week, can be found on the American Burn Association website,


Kenny Asselin

By: Kenny Asselin, MBA, NRP
ABA Member
IAFF 5th District Burn Coordinator
31-year fire service veteran
24 years full time with West Bend Fire Department
Captain of Fire Prevention
Critical Care Paramedic