An appreciation of the causes of burn injury is essential in order to direct burn prevention programs. Toward this goal, 1,564 patients treated at the UCI Burn Center were studied. There were 699 patients admitted acutely and 865 outpatients. The most common cause of thermal injury in both adults and children was scalding. In children scald burns accounted for 42% of the total number of children treated. In children under 4 years old scalds caused 75% of all burn injuries, most in the kitchen. Flammable liquids were responsible for the majority of the severe burns in the adult group (19% of acute admissions). Housefires, while accounting for only 5% of the adults treated, were responsible for 44% of the adult deaths. Continued public education in safety practices at home especially in the kitchen and bath, and with automobiles and outdoor stoves and fires is recommended, as well as planned escapes from homes and use of smoke detectors.