With the frigid temperatures this winter, families have been curling up next to the fire or with a cup of hot chocolate to help stay warm. While this sounds like a serene winter picture, unfortunately these items can cause major burns or scalds, especially in children, if not handled properly.
This week is Burn Awareness Week. Children, older adults and people with disabilities are considered high risk groups. Dayton Children’s Hospital treats over 600 children for burns each year.
“Children have a greater risk of getting deeper and more serious burns because they have thinner skin than adults,” says David P. Meagher, MD, medical director for burn care at Dayton Children’s. “Also, because children are smaller, a greater proportion of their total body surface is susceptible to being burned.”
Children are most frequently treated for scalds, a type of burn caused by hot liquid or steam that damages one or more layers of the skin. Most scald injuries occur in the home, either in the kitchen or bathroom, and are preventable. Follow these seven tips to keep you and your family safe from scald injuries:
1. Establish a safe area, out of the traffic path between the stove and sink, where children can safely play, but are still supervised.
2. Consider replacing tablecloths with non-stick placements if toddlers are present in the household. Children may use the tablecloth to pull themselves up causing hot food to spill down on them.
3. Do not let children play with pots, pans and cooking utensils as toys — they may be unable to distinguish between a “safe” or “play” pan and one that is dangerously hot.
4. Children under age 7 should not operate the microwave unless they are closely supervised. If of age, the child should be tall enough to easily reach the microwave door and his/her face should always be higher than the front of the door.
5. Avoid holding a child in your arms while preparing/serving hot food or while drinking a hot beverage.
6. Seat children facing away from faucets in the bathtub so that faucets are out of reach.
7. Set water heater thermostats to deliver water at a temperature no higher than 120 degrees F/48 degrees C.