Scalds one of most common causes of burns

Ninety percent of burn injuries to children under 5 are caused by scald or contact burns. Scalding injuries and burns caused by hot tap water, hot beverages and food, and steam can easily be avoided by making simple changes in your home.

Although scalding injuries can happen to anyone at any age, according to the National Safety Council (NSC), children, older adults, and people with disabilities are most vulnerable.  The NSC, currently celebrating its 100th year, has a long history of promoting health and safety. Their website states that children under the age of four account for 60 percent of scald injuries.

Michigan State University Extension wanted to highlight other organizations that work to prevent scald and burn accidents.

Safe Kids Worldwide, a global organization founded in 1988 and dedicated to preventing injuries in children, also offers tips on their website to keep children safe from scald risks in the home, especially in the kitchen, dining room and bathroom.   The organization reports the sobering statistics that 90 percent of burn injuries to children under age 5 are caused by scalds or contact burns. Children have thinner skin than adults, which means burns can be more severe, and very young children most likely do not perceive the danger of hot liquids, food and steam. In some instances, lifelong scarring or even death can occur.

The American Burn Association, founded in 1967, annually observes the first full week in February as Burn Awareness Week encouraging burn, fire, and life safety educators to make a special effort to provide burn awareness and prevention messages during that week. They provide a variety of sample press releases, public service announcements, an educator’s guide and PowerPoint presentations to assist in those interested in conducting burn awareness education. Even though Burn Awareness Week 2013 is past, their website contains a variety of burn-related information that is applicable all year long.

The U.S. Fire Administration, an entity of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, provides informative videos on their website outlining measures to take in your home for preventing scalds and burns especially in young children. Their site also offers general first aid steps to take in the event a scald or burn does occur. You can even download a handy poster to remind all family members how to prevent and how to treat scalds and burns.

Though much of what is recommended by all these organizations seems to be really nothing more than common sense practices, busy families with young children may not think of taking these steps until a tragedy has already occurred.

Take a look around your home today, especially in the kitchen and bathroom, to make sure you are doing all you can to protect yourself and family members from a painful and possibly lengthy recovery from scalds and burns.

Recommendations for simple preventative steps that you can take include:

  • Keeping children at least three feet from hot appliances including cooking stoves, fireplaces, and space and water heaters.
  • Never cook, carry or drink hot beverages while holding a child, and make sure hot liquids are kept well away from edges of tables and counters.
  • Avoid using tablecloths or anything that a child can pull on that would cause hot food or beverages to spill.
  • When cooking turn pot handles inward and use rear burners if possible; never leave the stove unattended while in use.
  • Always test cooked food or hot drinks for temperature before serving to a child as well as testing bath water before placing a child in the tub.
  • Set your home water heater thermostat to a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Consider installing an anti-scald device on the tub as even in the presence of the most vigilant parent it only takes a moment for a child to turn on the hot water faucet while bathing.

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