Traditionally, burn prevention efforts have been directed at public education and numerous burn prevention campaigns have been undertaken during the past 30 years. How successful have these campaigns been? Contrary to burn mortality, statistical data on burn morbidity are extremely difficult to obtain because little national or international data is available. An analysis of the absolute death rates caused by fire and flames for various countries from 1975 through 1986 seems to indicate that world-wide burn mortality has not decreased. On the contrary, in many countries the rates have increased, whereas in countries like the USA, UK, France and FR Germany, the decrease has been disappointingly low. Furthermore, one wonders if the decrease in mortality rates experienced by these countries is the result of effective prevention programmes or if these could be attributed to advances in technology and improved medical care. Burn prevention campaigns aimed at public education have failed to provide the expected decrease in burn injuries. Education may increase knowledge but does not necessarily lead to behavioural and/or lifestyle change. A restructuring of our burn prevention programmes is needed. Modern techniques of motivational theory must be used to promote public concern and action for individual behaviour change, pertinent legislation and product safety.