Burn Awareness: Prevention and Care
In 2016, over 486,000 individuals were medically treated for burn injuries, derived from fire, hot liquids, improper electric wiring, chemicals, and more. The majority of these injuries were preventable.
Knowledge about burns, and how safety can play a part in preventing them, is important to investigate. The best way to prevent burns is to, of course, stay away from hot materials, but for many parents with children, it is often hard to get the message across that hot means hot. Children make up one-third of all burn injuries and taking preventative action to reduce these burns is important. The US Fire Administration and American Burn Association offer some simple tips:
- Create a “no-kid zone,” to keep children three-feet away from anything hot, like candles, space heaters, and stove-tops
- When cooking, use the back burners and turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so children cannot pull them down
- Teach children that matches, lighters, and other fire causing items are for adults, also keep them up high and out of children’s reach
- Keep hot devices and cords out of reach of children
- Teach children about stop, drop, and roll, if their clothes catch fire
- Always test water temperature before placing children in the tub or shower
- Keep babies out of direct sun exposure until at least 6 months of age, to reduce sunburn risks
- Reapply suntan lotion to children if they go swimming or are sweating after the initial application
Treating burns properly after exposure to extreme heat is important. Do not use ice, apply butter or ointments, or break blisters. Each of these can cause further damage to the wound, and even increase the severity of a burn. Depending on the severity of the burns and size the treatment is different. The image to the right can help determine the severity of the burn.
- Major, third degree, or severe burns and electrical burns need to be seen immediately, so calling 9-1-1 is a must. Self-treating these types of wounds or removing anything stuck to the skin could lead to further harm, hypothermia, or shock. If an individual is unresponsive after experiencing an electrical charge or major burn, check for normal breathing and administer CPR if needed until EMS personnel arrive.
- Treating chemical burns are often different than minor, major, and electrical burns. Chemical burns need to be treated immediately and 9-1-1 called. Thorough flushing of the entire infected area with large amounts of water should be done until EMS arrive.
- For burns that are first or second degree and no larger than 3 inches, run cool water on the area and then cover the area with nonstick dressing and bandage to help prevent infection.
- Sunburn can often be treated with cold water or cool cloths, depending on severity. Blisters can be covered with dry bandages. If no blisters are present, use of aloe Vera can relieve discomfort.
The National Safety Council offers a handy guide to treating burns here: Burn Guide.
Source: American Burn Association (ameriburn.org), National Safety Council (nsc.org)