Severe burn is a major public health issue in developing nations. Although burn and smoke inhalation in 2002 were documented as being responsible for over 322,000 deaths worldwide, this figure is most likely a gross underestimate. The burden of suffering from fire is exceedingly distributed among the poor. A large proportion of burns are related to the nature of domestic appliances that are used for cooking, heating, lighting or all three. We undertook a retrospective review of the literature as well as analyzing our institutional and regional experiences with injuries caused by non-electric domestic appliances. The incidence of injuries is largely associated with the use of stoves and lamps; and from kerosene or petroleum as well as butane, liquid petroleum gas and alcohol. Associated problems include appliance design and construction, fuel combustion and instability, and mechanical inefficiency. Ignorance of safe usage techniques is also contributory. Industry and government regulations and standards are either nonexistent or not adequately enforced. Solving this substantial problem will depend on improved surveillance by means of formal epidemiologic studies, and the contributions and collaboration of international governmental and nongovernmental organizations.