This article describes childhood burn injury as a barometer of social inequalities, due to class or gender. Although the issue is not explicitly located within the Hind Swaraj scholarship, the occurrence of burns provides an opportunity to investigate the profound impact of social obstacles to individual, familial and even community safety. This article outlines the case for childhood burns, as a manifestation of what is also often termed accidental injury, to thus be described within Hind Swaraj terms. It describes the interactions between the contextual, environmental and individual contributors to childhood burn injuries in South Africa. The article highlights the centrality of these factors to understanding the selective occurrence of burns but also to the formulation of burn prevention and control measures.