Each year during the first week of February, the American Burn Association selects a relevant topic to kick off their media campaign to educate the general public about burn prevention. For 2009, the focus is on scald prevention and treatment. According to the American Burn Association’s Scald Prevention Information, nearly 24,000 children are treated for scald injuries in emergency rooms annually. The highest at risk groups for scald injuries are “young children, older adults and people with disabilities.”
According to Consumer Reports Health, the following are most common sources for scalds:
- “Boiling water from pots, pans or kettles
- Very hot drinks, such as freshly brewed tea or coffee
- Steam from steamers or kettles
- Hot plates, hot rings, oven doors
- Hot irons
- Hot baths
- Hot faucets.”
Common sense prevention advice by the American Burn Association includes:
- “Cook on back burners when young children are present. Keep all pot handles turned back, away from the stove edge. All appliance cords should be coiled and away from the counter edge. Curious children may reach up and grab handles or cords, pulling hot food and liquid down onto themselves. The grease in deep fat fryers and cookers can reach temperatures higher than 400 degrees Fahrenheit and cause serious burns in less than one second.
- Place microwave ovens at a safe height, within easy reach for all users, to avoid spills. Microwaves should be placed so that the faces of children and people who use wheelchairs are higher than the front of the door.
- Set home water heaters no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit / 48 degree Celsius. An easy method to test this is to allow hot water to run for three to five minutes, then test with a candy, meat or water thermometer. Adjust the water heater and wait a full day to allow the temperature to change. Re-test and re-adjust as necessary.
- Provide constant adult supervision of young children or anyone who may experience difficulty removing themselves from hot water on their own. Gather all necessary supplies before placing a child in the tub, and keep them within easy reach.
- Never drink or carry hot liquids while holding or carrying a child. Quick motions (reaching or grabbing) may cause the hot liquid to spill, burning the child or adult.”
The American Burn Association Educator’s Guide suggests the following steps for dealing with a scald injury:
- “Remove all diapers and clothing from around the burn area—these will retain heat, increasing the damage to the skin. If material is adherent (stuck) to the skin, cool the area with cool water and seek medical attention. Jewelry and metal such as belt buckles and zippers also need to be removed.
- Run cool—not cold—water over the burn area for a few minutes.
- Do not apply ice directly to the burn. Ice can make the burn worse.
- Do not apply creams, ointments or salves. These products retain heat in the damaged tissue.
- Do not break any blisters until seen by a physician. Cover with a clean, dry cloth.
- First and second degree burns smaller than the person’s palm can usually be treated at home. Keep the area clean to prevent infection by gently washing with mild antimicrobial soap several times a day and rinsing thoroughly. Cover open areas with a clean, loose dressing.
- Consult with your family physician or local burn center if the burn does not heal in 2-3 days or if signs of infection appear. Burns larger than the person’s palm should be evaluated by a physician.”
In earlier articles, the DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog posted entries covering:
- National Burn Awareness Week Safety Advice for 2008
- Safety Tips for Electric Space Heater Use
- Winter Fire Facts and Prevention Tips
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