Tips to Prevent Burns and Fires

Tips to Prevent Burns and Home Fires

December 2015


As temperatures grow colder and people seek warmth indoors, UW Medicine physicians see a marked increase in patients with burns, some very serious. Many of these injuries are caused by fires that start in a hearth, on the stove or even with a holiday candle.

Most residential fires that occur during the winter months are preventable, said Dr. Nicole Gibran, a UW Medicine physician and director of the UW Medicine Regional Burn Center at Harborview Medical Center. Cooking is one of the primary causes of residential fires, but smoking and using fireplaces and candles can also cause fires.

Here are some tips from the UW Medicine Regional Burn Center for preventing fires in your home:


  • Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on a stove top to keep an eye on the food.
  • Stay at home when cooking your turkey.
  • Keep stove burners, broilers and ovens grease free. Grease may build up and cause a fire. If there is a grease fire in a pan, DO NOT move the pan. Instead, turn off the heat and put a lid on the pan.
  • Pay close attention if you plan to use a turkey fryer. Know that deep-fat fryers can be very dangerous. Hot oils may reach temperatures over 490 degrees Fahrenheit during cooking.
  • Keep children away from the stove.


  • Do not smoke in bed.
  • When you are sleepy or have been drinking, be especially careful about your matches, lighters and cigarette embers.
  • Never empty an ashtray until contents are cold. Burning/smoldering cigarettes are a major cause of home fires.
  • Keep lighters away from children.


  • Clean chimneys and flutes regularly.
  • Place fireplace ashes in a metal container.


  • Use non-tip candle holders.
  • Keep candles away from combustible items, such as curtains and furniture.
  • Do not leave burning candles unattended.
  • Never leave children alone in room with a lit a candle.

Safety and preparedness

  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home.
  • Test once a month and replace batteries twice a year.
  • Make sure electric wiring is adequate and in good repair.
  • Do not overload circuits -- especially with holiday lights.
  • Make an escape plan for each level of your home and practice it with your family.

To learn more about fire and burn safety, or to schedule an appointment with a UW Medicine physician, call 855-520-5151.

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