Many Americans do not practice important fire safety tips in homes, despite high awareness

Shriners Hospitals for Children survey uncovers dangerous habits that could put families at risk during holiday season

Friday, November 11, 2016

According to an independent survey commissioned by Shriners Hospitals for Children, many do not follow key fire and burn safety tips during the holiday season, which can be the most dangerous time of year.

The national survey, conducted as part of the Shriners Hospitals for Children annual Be Burn Aware campaign, polled adults across the nation on their fire safety knowledge and practices. Although overall awareness was high, the survey revealed several gaps in action. The largest gap was associated with live Christmas trees, one of the most dangerous fire hazards in homes during this time of year. More than half of those surveyed said they do not water trees daily, even though nearly three-quarters of respondents were aware of the life-saving practice.*

Candle and cooking accidents account for a large portion of house fires and injuries, but the study revealed Americans are not taking simple steps to keep their homes safe. One-quarter of Americans surveyed said they leave lit candles unattended, and slightly more leave them in reach of children. The survey also found that two of the simplest prevention tips are often not followed in the kitchen – turning pot handles to the back of the stove and keeping a cookie sheet nearby to extinguish a fire.

The survey results also show:

  • 70 percent are aware that live Christmas trees should be watered daily, but only 45 percent actually do
  • 25 percent leave lit candles unattended in their homes
  • 27 percent leave lit candles within the reach of children
  • 47 percent do not keep a lid or cookie sheet nearby when cooking to extinguish a fire
  • 25 percent do not turn pot handles to the back of the stove and out of children’s reach

“Some of these findings seem alarming, but each year our burn hospitals see the results – children who have been injured in cooking related accidents or in fires associated with decorations or candles,” said Kenneth Guidera, M.D., chief medical officer at Shriners Hospitals for Children. “These injuries can mean years of ongoing treatments to a child’s growing skin and extensive rehabilitation.”

To help reduce fires and burns, Shriners Hospitals for Children is spreading important prevention messages through its Be Burn Aware campaign. Public service announcements, featuring actor Joe Minoso from the NBC hit show Chicago Fire, urge families to take precautions like watering live Christmas trees daily to reduce fire risks. The hospital system also has activity books, tip cards and a 5-minute online quiz available at beburnaware.org, to help families avoid holiday injuries.

“As the nation’s leader in pediatric burn care, we want to remind the public of the simple precautions they can take to reduce the risks of fires and burns for a safe and happy holiday season,” said Chris Smith, chairman of the Board of Directors, Shriners Hospitals for Children. “Should a severe burn occur, our expert medical staff is here to help, regardless of the families’ ability to pay. It’s just another way we send Love to the rescue®.”

* Study by Shriners Hospitals for Children, August 2016.