Fire Safety and Burns--Injury Statistics and Incidence Rates

Burn injury and incidence rates

The following statistics are the latest available from the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the United States Fire Administration (part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency):

Injury and death rates:

  • The majority of fire-related deaths are caused by smoke inhalation of the toxic gases produced by fires. Actual flames and burns only account for about 30 percent of fire-related deaths and injuries.

  • The majority of fires that kill or injure children are residential fires.

  • The majority of children ages 4 and younger, who are hospitalized for burn-related injuries, suffer from scald burns (65 percent) or contact burns (20 percent).

  • Fires kill about 500 children ages 14 and under each year.

  • Hot tap water scald burns cause more deaths and hospitalizations than any other hot liquid burns.


  • The leading cause of home fires and related injuries is home-cooking equipment. However, most fire-related deaths are from residential fires ignited by smoking materials such as cigarettes.

  • The leading cause of residential fire-related death and injury among children ages 9 and under is carelessness.

  • The most common causes of product-related thermal burn injuries among children ages 14 and under are hair curlers, curling irons, room heaters, ovens and ranges, irons, gasoline, and fireworks.

  • Most scald burns to children, especially small children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years, are caused by hot foods or liquids spilled in the kitchen, or other areas where food is prepared and served.

Where and when:

  • Over half of children ages 5 and under who die from home fires are asleep at the time of the fire. Another one-third of these children are too young to react appropriately.

  • Deadly residential fires are most likely to start in a living or sleeping area.

  • Residential fires and related deaths occur more often during cold-weather months, December through February, due to portable or area heating equipment.

  • Most child play related home fires begin in a bedroom or living room where children are left unattended. The majority of these fires are started by children playing with matches or lighters.


  • Children in homes without working smoke alarms are at greater risk of fire-related death and injury in the event of a fire.

  • Children ages 5 and under are more than twice as likely to die in a fire than any other age group.

Smoke alarm and sprinkler system statistics:

  • By 2004, the majority of homes (96 percent) in the United States had at least one smoke alarm. However, only three-quarters of all homes had at least one working smoke alarm.

  • Automatic sprinkler systems reduce the chance of dying in a residential fire by approximately 73 percent.

  • Smoke alarms and sprinkler systems combined can reduce fire-related deaths by 82 percent and injuries by 46 percent.