Statistics on Burn Injuries


Burns are an unfortunate part of life. A death injury from burns occurs every three hours in the US, amounting to about 1.5 deaths from fire or burn injuries per 100,000 population, or about 2.1 percent out of all fatal injuries. Most deaths are due to residential fires with an increased risk in young children, the geriatric population, those living in rural homes, and those living in poverty. 

Burn Injury Statistics

Nonfatal injuries are prevalent but hard to quantify. It is estimated that there are about 9 out of every 100 population per year in the US, with other governing bodies showing a much lower 1.3 percent rate among US citizens.

In burn statistics, burn injuries are divided into:

  • Overall, fire and burns
  • Fire and flame burns
  • Scald burns
  • Contact burns
  • Electrical burns
  • Chemical burns

Higher deaths occur with fires/flames than with contact with hot objects and unintentional and violence-related fires. Women have a lesser incidence of getting burned but have a greater overall death rate from burns. There have been no significant changes in burns statistics in the last few decades, except for fewer male deaths. The mean age of all treated burns in burn units is 32 years, with 70 percent of them being males.

In one study by the National Burn Repository that listed burn statistics in the US from 2001-to 2010, 18 percent of burns occurred in 5 years and under, while 12 percent occurred in those over the age of 60. A total of 1.4 percent were suspected cases of abuse or assault, and 1 percent were self-inflicted. Less than a half percent were labeled arson.

Scald and fire flame injuries are most common and occur mainly in the home. Scalds are most common in children under the age of five. Electrical burns occur most often in industrial sites (43 percent), with 27 percent associated with the home.

Ninety percent of all burns are relatively minor and associated with burns involving less than 20 percent of the total body surface area. Inhalation injuries are associated with 6.3 percent of burns, many requiring mechanical ventilation. The average length of stay at a burn unit is 9-10 days, 9.6 days for survivors, and 17.7 days for fatalities. The cost of caring for burns is large: an average of $69 thousand for survivors and $212 thousand for non-survivors. This makes for a total US burn care cost of $75 billion, including the loss of productivity burn patients experience.

Risk Factors for Burns

The significant risk factors for burns include winter months, a lack of smoke alarms, substandard housing, unattended heating devices, careless smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, and playing with matches, especially in male children.
Let’s take a look at the high-risk populations:

  • Children. This is especially true of children from Asian countries. In the US, two children die of burn-related injuries each day. Children under the age of five have almost all of the scald deaths in America. This almost always happens from hot coffee or other hot foods and bathroom burns in the tub. The burns are often on the neck and head from hot foods falling from a high surface in the kitchen injuries. Other causes of burns include hair curlers, curling irons, room heaters, ovens, stoves, irons, gasoline, and fireworks. Electrical cords and extension cords make up a small number of these burns and burns from moving treadmills, exhaust pipes, and barbecues.
  • The Elderly. The elderly suffer from burns which increase as people age. They have an even higher risk of burns than children. Of these burns, 20 percent happen by scalds, 6 percent by electrical means, 2 percent are electrical, and 6 percent are various types of burns. The majority suffer from some kind of mobility or judgment issue, or victims are impaired by drugs and alcohol. Of 80-year-olds, 32 percent are burned by scald injuries. Thirty percent are burned by flames, 29 percent by contact burns, and 7 percent by bath immersion injuries. Seniors had twice the length of hospital stay with an extent of burn as depicted by the American Burn Association’s Burn Registry being about 9 percent. Inhalations affected 11 percent. In one study, a group of elderly burn patients died at 8 percent.
  • The disabled. Due to the lack of mobility issues, the disabled are at higher risk of burn injuries. They generally suffer from scalding burns at home and have hospital stays that last 27 days.
  • Military personnel. The extent of burns depends mainly on the types of weapons used. Burns are more common at sea. In the Falkland Islands skirmish of 1982, 34 percent of all injuries on British naval ships were burns. In recent years, more and better flame retardant garments and better fire extinguishing systems have reduced the number of burn injuries among this group of people.
Burn Injury Attorneys in Sacramento, CA

Severe burn injuries are life-threatening. If you have been involved in an accident and sustained catastrophic burn injuries, call our Sacramento Burn Injury Attorneys for free and friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

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Editor's Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevance. [cha 5.27.22]

Photo by Tumisu on Pixabay [cs 906]

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