Of the nearly 600,000 burn injuries seen in emergency departments nationwide each year, a large number are related to scalding, or burns caused by heated fluids, and most of those with scalds– 75 percent of cases – are children. For the second year in a row, National Burn Awareness Week, February 2 to 8, is focused on the reduction of scalding injuries, based on the high number of injuries still seen in emergency departments nationwide.
Dina Morrissey, MD, program coordinator for the Injury Prevention Center at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, and David Harrington, MD, director of the Rhode Island Burn Center at Rhode Island Hospital, are offering safety reminders and prevention tips for local families in an effort to reduce scalding injuries.
“This past year, slightly more than three-quarters of all pediatric burns admitted at Hasbro Children’s Hospital were related to scalding injuries, according to data from the Rhode Island Hospital Trauma Registry. This is an increase over last year.” said Morrissey.
“Because of the proportions of a child’s body, they often have burns over a much larger surface, and can be burned far more extensively, more quickly,” said Harrington. “But, we also must keep elderly dependents in mind when talking about injuries at bath time or knocking over hot liquids in the kitchen.”
Harrington and Morrissey offer the following safety tips to help prevent unintentional injuries from scalding:
In the Kitchen
- Always keep pot handles turned inward and use the back burners if possible.
- Encourage the use of oven mitts and potholders to handle hot items.
- Use pan lids to prevent hot liquid spatter and spills on the stove. Use appropriate protective equipment, such as an oven mitt, when removing hot pan lids.
- Be careful when heating liquids or steaming food (popcorn/frozen vegetables) in the microwave.
- Microwaves often heat unevenly, so be sure to stir liquids thoroughly after heating.
- Always supervise young children in the kitchen.
- Never hold a hot beverage while holding a child or caring for a dependent adult.
- Never leave a hot beverage or plate of food unattended or close to edge of a counter or table when a young child is present.
- Avoid the use of tablecloths and placemats. Young children may pull on them, causing a spill of hot liquid.
- Do not use a microwave to heat baby formula.
- Do not allow young children to use a microwave.
- Make sure your hot water heater is set no higher than 120 degrees F.
- Always check the water temperature before putting a child or dependent adult in the tub. Both young children and the elderly have thinner skin compared to the average adult, and can burn more quickly and at a lower temperature.
- Check the temperature of tub or sink water by placing your hand in the water for a full 10 seconds.
- Consider purchasing a bath tub thermometer that will alert you if the water is too hot for a child or dependent adult.
- Never leave a child or dependent adult unattended in the bathtub. Not even for a second.