This week is National Burn Awareness Week, a week to put safety on the front burner, said Greg Brooks, president of the CSRA Trauma Society, a training agency for the National Safety Council.
There are three ways to get burned: by thermal heat, chemical burns or electrical shock. But scalding is the leading cause of injury and death to children under two, Brooks said.
"Boiling water is 212 degrees. You can get a third degree burn within 2-5 seconds at 150 degrees. So people can see how important it is to keep boiling liquid away from the skin," Brooks said. "When you put cup of water in the microwave to boil and then spill it on somebody, the burn is instantaneous,"
Because young children have thinner skin than that of older children and adults, their skin burns more deeply and at lower temperatures. Each year, more than 600 children ages 14 and under die due to fire- and burn-related injuries and another 100,000 are treated.
"A child who sustains a burn injury can suffer lifelong physical and psychological trauma," says Dr. Martin Eichelberger, president of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and director of Emergency Trauma and Burn Services at Children's National Medical Center in Washington D.C. "Following simple precautions to keep young children safe in their home environments can prevent this kind of unnecessary trauma. It is an injury no parent wants to see their child suffer through."
A first degree burn will leave a red mark, a second degree burn will be red with blistering and a third degree burn will be charred looking, often going as deep as the muscle or bone.
"A third degree burn is the worst injury that can happen to the body," Brooks said. "We're blessed to have the Burn Center here, but unfortunately, it's always full."
Most thermal burns involve flame or hot liquids and minors burns can be treated by running under cold water. Chemical burns can be caused by either liquid or dry chemicals. In case of contact with such chemicals, a person should get it off as quickly as possible.
"If it's liquid, flood with water for 15 minutes. If dry, brush off all residue, then flush for 15 minutes. Remember brush and flush dry," Brooks said.
In an electrical burn, most of the damage occurs underneath the skin, but there may be entrance and exit wounds that can be treated with cool water and compresses.
Second or third degree burns should be treated with water only and one should seek medical treatment for more serious burns.
Prevention is the key to making sure burns don't happen in the first place, Brooks said.
Small children should be kept away from the kitchen area and hot liquids. And children should be told that matches and lighters are tools for adults. Matches and lighters, he said, are the leading cause of burn injuries and death to children ages 2-5.
"Teach children that if they find them, give them to adults," Brooks said. "They are tools for adults. The worst thing is tell them 'don't play with matches and lighters.' If you do, the first thing they'll do when they find them is play with them."
People should use caution when microwaving liquids. The container may be cool, but there may be hot spots inside. Water heaters should also be set around 120 degrees, "hot enough for clothes and showers, but won't cause a nasty burn," Brooks said.
More information is available through a once-a-month class Brooks teaches at Doctors Hospital. the next class is Feb. 15 at 8 a.m. For more information call 860-8583 or call Doctors Hospital.
Tips to burn proof your home
Provide continuous and appropriate supervision of young children.
Check smoke detector batteries regularly and replace when needed, or at least annually.
Teach children fire safety - stop, drop and roll; have an escape plan; keep low in a fire.
Keep electric cords out of the reach of children.
At night, children should wear clothing that is specifically designed as sleepwear and labeled "flame resistant" to prevent burn injury or death as a result of fire.
Establish a "safety zone" in front of stoves where children are not permitted.
Store chemicals in secure or elevated areas out of the reach and sight of children.
Supervise young children around any source of hot water - scald burns can occur when children turn on the hot water in the bathtub or at the kitchen sink. Use caution when microwaving liquids.
Cook on the rear of the stove to prevent spills, especially when young children are in the home.
Exercise caution when using candles or smoking in the home. Keep candles out of the reach of children or do not use them when young children are present. Keep matches and lighters out of sight and out of reach from children.
Water heaters should be set at a maximum of 120 degrees.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.