Each year on average 18,300 Americans are injured, and more than 3,500 die in fires, with children age 14 and under making up 10-15 percent of all fire deaths.
National Burn Awareness Week is traditionally observed the first full week in February and according to FEMA Regional Administrator Ken Murphy, it's the perfect calendar observance to focus on preventing fires and protecting children.
"Children under the age of five account for 52 percent of all child fire deaths," said Murphy. "And home fires tend to spike in winter months, placing younger children and toddlers at even greater risk.
"Many children are unable to escape from fire on their own, and I encourage parents and caregivers to use National Burn Awareness Week as an opportunity to take actions that keep their loved ones, and particularly children, safe from fire and burn hazards."
Some tips to avoid fire and keep kids safe around the house include:
Keeping children at least three feet from hot stoves and cooking appliances. When cooking, use back burners with pot handles turned towards the back of the stove.
Have fireplace flues and chimneys inspected for leakage and blockage from creosote or debris.
Open the fireplace damper before lighting a fire and keep it open until the ashes are cool. Store ashes in fire-resistant containers; cover the container with a lid, and dispose of ashes carefully.
Place space heaters on a floor that is flat and level. Do not put space heaters on rugs or carpets. Keep space heaters at least three feet from bedding, drapes, furniture and other flammable materials and place them out of the flow of foot traffic. Keep children and pets away from space heaters.
Always tuck cords from appliances where children cannot reach them.
Install smoke alarms on every level in the home, and inside and outside sleeping areas.
Test smoke alarms each month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
Online resources for fire prevention education materials and protecting children from fire and burns include www.safekids.org; www.usfa.dhs.gov/kids/ and www.Ready.gov.
Learn about FEMA's Children's Working Group at www.fema.gov/about/cwg.shtm.