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Burn Awareness Week 2014

February 2-8 is National Burn Awareness Week.

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The prevention theme for this year is scald prevention, one of the leading causes of burn injuries for young children and the elderly. The American Burn Association, the International Association of Fire Fighters Burn Foundation and the Federation of Burn Foundations (which FLRBA is a member) developed a national scald campaign.

It only takes one second for a severe burn to occur from a scald. A scald injury happens when hot liquids or steam come in contact with the skin. Liquids greater than 120 degrees Fahrenheit can cause a burn injury. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate and other hot beverages are usually served at 160 to 180 degrees resulting in almost instantaneous burns that will likely require surgery if spilled.

Although scald burns can happen to anyone, young children, older adults and people with disabilities are the most likely to incur such injuries. Most scald burn injuries happen in the home, in connection with the preparation or serving of hot food or beverages, or from exposure to hot tap water in
bathtubs or showers. Both behavioral and environmental measures may be needed to protect those vulnerable to scalds.

Young children have thinner skin resulting in deeper burns than adults for the same temperature and exposure time to a scalding substance. The proportion of a child’s body that is exposed to any given amount of a scalding substance is also greater: the same cup of spilled coffee will burn a much larger percent of a small child’s body. Small children also have little control of their environment, less perception of danger and less ability to escape a burning situation on their own. Children grow fast and can reach new, dangerous things every day. They do not realize that hot liquids burn like fire. If you do incur a burn injury, seek prompt medical care from the Kessler Burn Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center or your nearest emergency center.

The American Burn Association along with FLRBA share the following recommendations to keep children and others safe from scalds.
  •  Turn hot water thermostats to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the Cooking Area:
  •  Establish a safe area, out of the traffic path between the stove and sink, where children can safely play but still be supervised.
  •  Place young children in high chairs or playpens a safe distance from counter or stove tops, hot liquids, hot surfaces or other cooking hazards while preparing or serving food.
  • Provide safe toys for children, not pots, pans and cooking utensils, to occupy a child’s attention. Young children are unable to distinguish between a “safe” or “play” pan that they perceive as a toy and one used for cooking, which they may reach for on the stove.
  • Cook on back burners when young children are present.
  • Keep all pot handles turned back, away from the stove edge. All appliance cords need to be kept coiled and away from counter edges. Curious children may reach up and grab handles or cords. Cords may also become caught in cabinet doors causing hot food and liquids to spill onto you or others. The grease in deep fat fryers and cookers can reach temperatures higher than 400 degrees and cause serious burns in less than one second.
  • If young children want to help with meal preparation, give them something cool to mix in a location away from the cooking. Do not allow a child to stand on a chair or sit on the counter next to the stove.
  • Always use oven mitts or potholders when moving pots of hot liquid or food.
In the Dining Area:
  • During meal time, place hot items in the center of the table, at least 10 inches from the edge.
  • Use non-slip placemats instead of tablecloths if toddlers are present - young children may use the tablecloth to pull themselves up causing hot food to spill down on them. Tablecloths can also become tangled in crutches, walkers or wheelchairs, causing hot liquids to spill.
  • Never drink or carry hot liquids while holding or carrying a child. Quick motions (reaching or grabbing) may cause the hot liquid to spill.
Microwave ovens:
  • Children under age 7 should not operate the microwave unless they are closely supervised.
  • Never heat baby bottles of formula or milk in the microwave, especially those with plastic bottle liners. When the bottle is inverted, plastic liners can burst, pouring scalding liquids onto the baby. Always mix the formula well and test on the back of a hand or inner wrist before feeding.
  • Steam, reaching temperatures greater than 200 degrees, builds rapidly in covered containers and can burn the face, arms and hands. Puncture plastic wrap or use vented containers to allow steam to escape while cooking. Or, wait at least one minute before removing the cover. When removing covers, lift the corner farthest from you and away from your face or arm.
  • Steam in microwave popcorn bags is hotter than 180 degrees. Follow package directions, allow to stand one minute before opening, and open bag away from the face.
  • Foods heat unevenly in microwaves. Jelly and cream fillings in pastries may be extremely hot, even though outer parts feel only warm.
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