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Burn Awareness Week: Preventing Scald Burns

Scald Burns

Burn Awareness Week – February 5-11, 2017

Each year, over 450,000 injuries occur in the United States due to severe skin burns, with young children and older adults most at-risk. Between 2007 and 2013, the proportion of burn center admissions due to scald burns increased from 29.8% to 33.7% nationwide.

A new education effort beginning launch across the country by the National Scald Prevention Campaign and locally by the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department focuses on ways to avoid liquid and steam burn accidents.

“It can happen in a flash with a splash,” is the theme of the campaign designed to remind parents and caregivers that it only takes one quick mistake to have long-term injuries.

An overwhelming 84% majority of scald burns occur in the home. In children less than five years of age, the in-home injury rate increases to 95%, according to the American Burn Association’s 2014 National Burn Repository.

If you think liquid and steam isn’t dangerous- think again, It only takes 2 seconds of exposure to 148°F/64°C water to cause a burn serious enough to require surgery. Every minute, someone in the United States sustains a burn injury severe enough to require treatment.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, each day, over 300 children are seen in emergency rooms and 2 children die from burn injuries.

The most common factors that contribute to scald burn injuries in children are:

• Lack thereof or inadequate supervision, such as: distracted, substance-impaired, or sleeping caregivers; use of a sibling or immature sitter; infrequent observation; neglect; etc.
• The caregiver does not perceive danger, and therefore protective measures are not implemented. Caregivers may be ignorant of potential burn-causing hazards in the environment and/or be inexperienced in anticipating potentially dangerous situations, such as: leaving hot beverages within a child’s reach, not checking bath water temperatures, carrying hot liquids/food while holding a child, etc.
• Responsibility given to a child above their developmental ability, such as: bathing or caring for a younger sibling, cooking or using a microwave at a young age, etc.
• Abuse, such as intentional injuries from pouring onto or submerging into hot water.

To prevent severe steam burns from occurring in your household, follow these tips:

• Set your water heater at 120 degrees F/48 degrees C or just below the medium setting.
• Use a thermometer to test the water coming out of your bath water tap.
• Run your hand through bath water to test for hot spots.
• Use back burners and turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so children cannot pull them down.
• Use oven mitts when cooking or handling hot food and drinks.
• Stir and test food cooked in the microwave before serving. Open heated containers away from you from back to front.
• Keep children away from the stove when cooking by using a safety gate for younger children and marking with tape a 3-foot “no-kid zone” for older children.
• Keep hot drinks away from the edge of tables and counters and avoid using tablecloths and placemats.
• Use a “travel mug” with a tight-fitting lid for all hot drinks.
• Never hold or carry a child while you have a hot drink in your hand.

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