Burn Prevention Efforts Begin at Home
Every 30 minutes a human life is lost somewhere in the United States. Every hour two lives are lost, 114 injuries occur with 15 requiring hospitalization. More than 35% of these injuries and deaths are children. Recent research lists burn-related deaths as a leading cause of accidental death in children under 14, with the highest risk group listed as those under 2 years of age.
Seventy-five percent of all burns result from the victim's own actions. In the "over 70" age group 75% of these burns involve flame burns frequently associated with cooking, smoking, and the use of matches. Of the burn injuries, 65-75% occur at home. A recent study has revealed that more than 90% of microwave oven owners have been burned to varying degrees and at least 75% of all homes have microwave ovens.
The increased use of alternative heating devices, especially wood burning stoves and kerosene heaters, have increased the number of contact burns dramatically. More than 35% of these burns directly involve children. Hot water and scalding liquids are an ever increasing cause of burn injuries in the United States today. For example, tap water heated to excess of 130ø F can cause serious burns in seconds. Liquids spilled in the kitchen account for a large number of burns to adults and children. Children and adults who suffer burn injuries often face years of reconstructive surgeries, physical and psychological rehabilitation.
Some major issues that many burn survivors must face are:
- Learning to accept and love themselves with their altered appearances
- Developing skills to function with the public
- Reentering the school and/or work environment or retraining for a new career.
- Reaffirming previous relationships and establishing new friendships
- Overcoming fears of rejection by family members, mates, friends, co-workers and employees, schoolmates and teachers
- Learning new recreational activities or relearning former activities
In addition to these considerations, the burn patient requires strong post-hospital support with re-socialization efforts. Many medical facilities do not offer these services to discharged patients. In spite of advancements in modern burn treatment procedures, patients with serious burns will undergo emotional, psychological and physical turmoil as they work their way through treatment programs and lifestyle adjustments. Most burn injuries are easily preventable if proper safety precautions are followed while working with and around hot liquids and materials. We must all adopt burn prevention behavior in our homes and workplaces -- it doesn't always happen to someone else.
Burn Prevention Tips
Because young children are the highest risk group for burn injuries, you can best protect them with burn prevention programs targeted at parents and other care-givers.
Here are some important tips to share:
- Set the hot water heater thermostat at 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
- When filling the bathtub, turn on the cold water first and mix in warm water. Test the water by moving your forearm through the water. The recommended bath water temperature for babies is about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Always stay in the room when your child is bathing. Take the child with you if you must leave the room to answer the door or telephone.
- The kitchen is not a play area. When cooking keep children occupied in another room or put them in a playpen, highchair, or other secure place.
- Give toddlers toys, not real pots and pans, to play with. Research indicates that children who play with real cookware are much more likely to reach for these pots and pans on counters and stoves.
- Take the child off your lap when you drink hot liquids. Place the child in a secure place.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach and out of sight.
- All children's sleepwear is required by law to be flame retardant. If you sew, use only flame resistant fabrics for children's sleepwear.
- Keep electrical cords out of reach. Toddlers have a tendency to pull appliances down on themselves. Babies may place electrical cords in their mouths.
- Keep household chemicals, flammable liquids, and flashlight batteries stored securely out of the reach of children.