To determine the profile of burn injury among an ambulatory population, we conducted a retrospective chart review over a one-year period of all first visits by patients under age 18 receiving burn care in our emergency department. Of the 109 visits, contact burns were most numerous (43.1%) followed by scalds (33.9%), flame/explosion (11.0%), cigarettes (5.5%) and electrical (2.8%). For children under 11 years of age, contact burns caused over half of all burns. Irons accounted for 44.7% of contact burns and 19.1% of all burns. The next most frequent causative agents were beverages (14.7%), food (nonbeverage) (73%), tap water/bath (73%), and cooking-related (6.4%). Contact burns were more likely to be smaller and more localized when compared with other burns. The cause and causative agents of burns differ in frequency and relative importance depending on the patient population studied and the level of medical care being provided. Specific burn prevention strategies should be directed toward particular patterns of injury within defined patient groups.