Burn Safety: How To Avoid & Treat Burn Injuries
Ensuring your home is equipped with working fire alarms and smoke detectors almost seems like a no-brainer now-a-days, but is that really enough to protect against the many burning hazards lurking around us? In 2010, nearly 128,000 children in the US ages 19 and under were injured due to a fire or burn, while more than 60,000 children ages 4 and under were treated in emergency rooms. The reality is, burn injuries can result from everyday things and activities in your home. Learn how you can reduce the risk of burn accidents by following the safety tips listed below.
Preventing Electrical Burns: To start, go through each room in your home and place covers over the electrical outlets to prevent children from inserting metal or other dangerous objects in the holes. Be sure to keep appliance cords away from walking paths and out of children’s reach, especially if the appliances you’re using produce a lot of heat, such as an iron or hairdryer. In addition, be extremely cautious and ensure your child is a safe distance away while using any electrical source near water. Lastly, avoid overusing one electrical outlet as this can be a very serious fire hazard.
Preventing Kitchen Burns: All throughout the day, our little ones are on a mission to explore their surroundings and touch whatever they can get their hands on. With this in mind, never leave food unattended on a stove. In addition, prevent hazardous kitchen spills by using the back burner of your stove, turning pot handles away from the edge and keeping hot foods and liquids out of reach at all times.
Secondly, never carry or hold your child while you’re cooking or standing near the hot surface. Consider placing your child in a highchair or play pin and let them watch you in amazement as you whip up something fabulous (well, more or less, right?). If your child is a little older and more independent, ask them to join you in the kitchen and teach them how to cook safely, how to use the microwave properly and what to do in various emergency situations.
Preventing Scald Burns: Did you know an estimated 65% of the children hospitalized for burn-related injuries are treated for scald burns? Scalds are burns that result from exposure to hot liquids or steam. Because a child’s skin is significantly more sensitive and burns far more easily than adult skin, it’s important to treat all hot substances as a potential safety hazard.
- Scalding Hot Water: Studies show that most hot water scalds occur in the bathroom. With this in mind, be sure to set your water heater thermostats to deliver water at a temperature no warmer than 120°F. Secondly, when preparing a bath for your little one, start filling the tub with cool water first then adding warm water at the halfway mark. Before letting them in the tub and inevitably drenching everything in the room, check the water temperature using your wrist or elbow. If the water is at the right temperature, help them get into the tub safely and be sure to have a responsible adult watching over them at all times.
- Scalding Hot Steam: If you own a dishwasher, be extremely careful when opening the washer door after a cleaning cycle has ended. Dishwashers generate a significant amount of hot steam which could be dangerous to children standing nearby. Secondly, using the microwave can be hazardous as it often heats unevenly and can bring liquid to temperatures greater than boiling without showing the typical signs of bubbling. Avoid using a microwave to heat baby formula or milk altogether. Heat bottles by placing them in a bowl with warm water, and test it to ensure it has reached the appropriate temperature before feeding your baby.
Preventing Further Hazards: Additional safety measures to consider may include installing fast-cooling safety gates around general heating sources (i.e. fireplaces, wood stove and furnaces), along with placing matches, lighters and candles in a safe place at all times. Teach your children at a young age to never to play with matches, lighters or fireworks. However, it’s important to encourage your children to become more independent as they reach a higher maturity level. Do this by showing them how to use each object properly and reminding them that they are not toys.
IF A BURN ACCIDENT OCCURS:
- Sooth the burned area with cool running water for several minutes. (Note: Do not use ice to cool a burn, as frostbite often occurs more quickly on previously damaged skin)
- Minor burns can be treated with a topical burn ointment or spray to reduce pain. (Note: Never apply grease, butter, lotions or fats – the oils will trap heat and make the burn deeper over time)
- For minor burns, very gently remove any jewelry from the injured area before swelling sets in. (Note: NEVER remove any clothing that is sticking to the burn as it could cause further damage and/or infection – instead call 9-1-1)
- Call 9-1-1 if the burned area is blackening, bleeding or blistering, as these are often signs of a more serious, multiple degree burn.
While burn injuries are nearly impossible to anticipate, there are many ways you can reduce the risk of these accidents from happening in your home. Use the safety measures listed above to maintain a safe home environment and keep your loved ones out of harms way.