The smell of a cake baking in the oven or a tasty soup simmering on the stovetop is difficult for both children and adults to resist. However, each year over 486,000 individuals in the U.S. and Canada are seen in emergency departments, minor emergency clinics or physician’s offices for the treatment of a burn injury due to cooking, hot liquids, grease, food, tap water and steam.
Most scald burns occur in the home and are typically related to everyday activities such as cooking, eating and bathing. They often occur to young children because of a lack of adult supervision and a failure to follow safe practices.
That’s why National Burn Awareness Week, observed the first full week in February, is designed to teach kids how to be responsible for their personal safety and to increase family awareness of potentially harmful situations in homes throughout the community where you live.
“Children under the age of five are 2.4 times as likely as the general population to suffer burn injuries that require emergency medical treatment.” according to Fire Instructor Michael McLeieer, Treasurer of the non-profit organization the Massachusetts Institute of Fire Department Instructors. “Young children cannot understand the potential dangers of things that can burn them. Today, 96.8% of those who suffer burn injuries will survive. Unfortunately, many of those survivors will sustain serious scarring, life-long physical disabilities, and adjustment difficulties,” said McLeieer.
Facts about burn related injuries:
- The primary causes of burn injuries include fire-flame, scalds, electrical and chemicals.
- Hot water scalds are the leading cause of burns to young children.
- Men are more likely to be burned than women (68% males and 32% females were seen at a burn unit).
- Most of the injuries occur in the home (73%) followed by work (8%).
- Tragically, children, the elderly, and the disabled are especially vulnerable to burn injuries, and almost one-third of all burn injuries occur in children under the age of 15.
- Young adults ages 20-29 have a probability of a burn injury that is roughly 1.5 times the risk of the general population.
Prevent burns and scalds in the kitchen:
- Place objects so that they cannot be pulled down or knocked over.
- Turn pot handles away from the stove’s edge.
- Use dry oven mitts or potholders. Hot cookware can heat moisture in a potholder or hot pad, resulting in a scald burn.
- Remove food that has been cooked in the microwave carefully. Open containers slowly and away from the face.
- Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
- Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove.
- Never hold a child while you are cooking, drinking a hot liquid, or carrying hot foods or liquids.
General first aid for burns and scalds:
- Treat a burn right away by putting it under cool, running water. Cool the burn for fifteen to twenty minutes.
- Cover a burn with a clean, dry cloth. Do not apply creams, ointments, sprays or other home remedies.
- Remove all clothing, diapers, jewelry and metal from the burned area. These can hide underlying burns and retain heat, which can increase skin damage.
- Seek immediate emergency medical care for more serious burns to prevent infection, other complications and death.
National Burn Awareness Week is the perfect time to share this information, develop a fire escape plan, check your smoke alarms, and make your kitchen and entire home safe for those you care for where you live!
* Information provided by the American Burn Association, United States Fire Administration and National Fire Protection Association.