Some thoughts I would like to share for everyone since the first week of February is National Burn Awareness Week.
The U.S. Fire Administration, is spotlighting National Burn Awareness Week, February 5-11, encouraging parents and caregivers to take action in keeping their loved ones safe from fire and burn hazards.
The theme for this year is: Scalds.
Scald injuries are painful and require prolonged treatment. They may result in lifelong scarring and even death. Prevention of scalds is always preferable to treatment and can be prevented through simple changes in behavior and the home environment.
Young children and older adults are most vulnerable. Annually, over 500,000 people receive medical treatment for burn injuries. Approximately half of these injuries are scalds. Most burns occur in the home, usually in the kitchen or bathroom.
While everyone is vulnerable to scald injuries, especially in the winter months, scald burns appear to be most prevalent in children under five years of age and older adults, primarily due to developmental changes. In children, curiosity and lack of coordination may lead to many accidents. For adults, it is often changes in sensory perception that lead to a scald injury.
As we get older, many of us tend to get used to doing things a certain way and may become complacent and somewhat resistant to change. A few simple modifications in your routine can prevent a life-altering incident.
Two areas of most concern are scalds from bath water and hot liquids. The temperature of water used for bathing is especially significant for children and older adults, whose skin is thinner and more susceptible to a deeper burn. A bath or shower that is too hot can be fatal and it can all be avoided by simply lowering your hot water temperature.
Hot liquids, such as coffee, tea and soup pose risks as well and burn just as severely as fire. Hot liquids need to be treated with care, especially around children. It only takes an instant for a curious child to pull down a cup of hot coffee off a table.”
Scalds can be prevented through increased awareness of scald hazards and by making common sense changes in your home life. These include providing a “kid-safe” zone while preparing and serving hot foods and beverages, and lowering the water heater thermostat to deliver water at no more than 120 degrees.
Install anti-scald devices; these heat sensitive instruments stop or interrupt the flow of water when the temperature reaches a pre-determined level preventing water that is too hot coming out of the tap.
Additionally, some other things to be considered should include:
- Homeowners should check the temperature of their water heater and set the thermostat at 120 degrees. Thermostats set at higher temperatures greatly increase your chances of a scald burn.
- For those unable to lower the temperature on their water heater, a meat or candy thermometer can be used to check the temperature of the water in your home. This will increase your awareness and allow you to make proper adjustments to the ratio of hot to cold water you are using.
- Infants and toddlers should NOT be bathing in water over 100 degrees. If the water feels hot to an adult, it will be scalding to a youngster and will need to be cooled prior to bathing.
- Younger children cannot verbalize and older adults often cannot properly feel pain from a scald burn until it is too late. Taking proper precautions prior to using tap water in your home can prevent injuries.
- Keep all hot foods, especially liquids, away from curious hands. Center them in the middle of a table or on back of a counter, keeping cords and pot handles turned inward.
- Limit the use of table cloths, place mats or anything toddlers (especially those just learning to walk) may grab onto, causing hot items to splash down.
- Avoid carrying children while holding hot beverages; never hold a cup of hot coffee or tea in the beverage holder of a stroller. Consider using travel mugs, even at home to minimize risk of scalds.
In the event of a burn, it is important to immediately take the following steps:
- Cool all burns with tepid to cool water. Continue flushing the area for up to 10 minutes. Do not apply ice, ointments, butter or other “home remedies.” Remove all clothing or garments to reduce the contact time with the hot items.
- Cover affected areas with a clean dry cloth, towel or blanket to protect the burn and minimize pain.
- Seek immediate medical attention, especially in burns involving children and older adults and in cases where skin is sloughing.
Critically burned patients require the expert, highly sophisticated care that can only be provided by an experienced team of medical professionals. Calling 911 initiates the entry into the expert care needed.
The Schiller Park Fire Department provides trained personnel ready to address all medical emergencies.