Skip to Main Content


Stay Focused on Fire Safety During Burn Awareness Week

Stay Warm During Extremely Cold Weather and Avoid Home Fires, Burns
Monday, February 08, 2021 | 08:00am

NASHVILLE – Forecasters predict extended periods of bone-chilling temperatures across the Volunteer State this week as much of the U.S. experiences below normal winter temperatures.

When temperatures drop, the risk of home fires and injuries increase dramatically. If temperatures drop below 32 degrees, Tennesseans are 40 percent more likely to have a home fire than if temperatures were above 32 degrees.

If temperatures drop below 15 degrees, structure fires are twice as likely to occur than when temperatures remain above 32 degrees. To raise awareness about the risks of home fires during winter weather, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office highlights National Burn Awareness Week (Feb. 7-13, 2021) in order to share important burn prevention tips to prevent burn-related injuries and reduce the risk of home fires this winter.

“As more Tennesseans will be spending time indoors next week because of the extremely cold temperatures, I remind residents to focus on fire safety in order to prevent potentially dangerous home fires and painful burns,” said Assistant Commissioner for Fire Prevention Gary Farley.

A contact burn is a type of burn most associated when skin touches something hot, such a fireplace grate or pans from the oven. These burns can happen at any age, but children under 5 years old face a higher risk.

While a majority of contact burns result from contact with heat, some burns, such as frostbite or hypothermia, result from exposure to extremely cold temperatures. Hypothermia can affect anyone but infants, the elderly and people who suffer from diabetes or heart conditions are at greater risk.

To help raise awareness of the importance of avoiding burns, remember the following tips:

Prevent cooking-related scalds and burns

  • To prevent spills due to the overturning of pots, pans and dishes containing hot food or liquids, use the back burner when possible and/or turn pot handles away from the stove’s front edge (or any edge where someone could bump into the pot handles). All appliance cords need to be kept coiled and away from counter edges.
  • Use oven mitts or potholders when moving hot food from ovens, microwave ovens or stovetops. Never use wet oven mitts or potholders because they can cause scald burns. Replace old or worn-out oven mitts.
  • Open heated food containers slowly, away from the face, to avoid steam burns.
  • Prepackaged microwavable soups are a frequent cause of scald burn injuries (especially noodle soups) because they can easily tip over. Choose prepackaged soups whose containers have a wide base or, to avoid the possibility of a spill, pour the soup into a traditional bowl after heating.
  • Microwaves can heat unevenly and create hot spots, so avoid using them to heat baby formula or milk.
  • Young children are at high risk of being burned by hot food and liquids. Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free zone" of three feet around the stove or around any place where hot food or drink is being prepared or carried.
  • Never hold a child while you are cooking, drinking a hot liquid or carrying hot foods or liquids.

Use and store household items with care

  • Keep an eye on appliances such as irons, curling irons or hair dryers that can heat up quickly or stay warm after use. Unplug these items after you're done.
  • Cleaners, weed killers and pool chemicals can cause burns. Keep these locked away/out of reach.
  • Make a habit of placing matches, gasoline and lighters in a safe place, out of children's reach. Avoid novelty lighters or lighters that look like toys.
  • Prevent electrical burns: Always turn off circuit breakers before making repairs to wiring; avoid using electrical appliances while showering or wet, use child safety plugs in all outlets and keep electrical cords out of children's reach.
  • Create a safety zone to keep children and pets away from heating devices such as woodstoves, fireplaces, portable heaters and furnaces.

Prevent tap-water scalds

  • Provide constant adult supervision of young children, anyone who might experience difficulty removing themselves from hot water on their own or people who might not recognize the danger associated with turning on the hot water.
  • Test the water at the faucet. It should be less than 100° Fahrenheit.
  • Mix bath water thoroughly and check the temperature by moving your elbow, wrist or hand with spread fingers through the water before allowing someone to get in. The water should feel warm, not hot, to the touch.
  • Turn the faucet to the “COLD” position when not in use if the tub has a single faucet handle.
  • When bathing young children, position them away from faucets to prevent them from being able to reach faucet knobs.