Kids, adults need to beware of burn hazards



    More than 40,000 children recieve thermal or contact burn injuries from touching hot appliances or other common household objects each year in the United States.

    February 7-13 is Burn Awareness Week. The purpose of this theme week is to encourage parents and caregivers to be aware of the dangers of many household appliances and to take the precautions to keep their children safe, said President of the Utah Safety Council, Robert Parenti.

    “Children are very susceptible (to burns) because of curiosity,” Parenti said.

    He recommends that people keep curling irons out of the reach of children and keep children at a safe distance while using one. Most curling irons reach the “one-second” contact burn temperature (167 degrees Fahrenheit) in less than five minutes, Parenti said.

    Parenti said to keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children. He said parents should teach children the dangers of fire.

    Extension and electrical cords are twice as likely to cause injury as outlets because children put the cords in their mouths, Parenti said. He encouraged parents to search for and throw away old, frayed, and damaged cords.

    Parenti also advised parents to keep pot handles turned in so children cannot pull pans of hot liquid off the stoves and onto themselves.

    He said young children are at greater risk for burns from household appliances than adults or older children. He said it is up to the adults in the home to keep young children from harm by following safety precautions.

    College students are also at risk for a variety of burns.

    Cherr Lillico, director of the task force at the Burn Awareness Coalition in Los Angeles, said teenagers and young adults are most frequently burned when working with gasoline and it somehow is ignited. She said car repairs of all kinds are common causes of burns.

    Burns from grease are common with teenagers and young adults working in the fast food industry, Lillico said, and they should use caution.

    Lillico advised people to set their water heaters no higher than 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

    “It only takes three to five seconds for third-degree scald burns in water hotter than 140 degrees,” Lillico said.

    She said water tempering devices that prevent scald burns can be bought at hardware stores. These devices shut off water coming out of the faucet if it exceeds a certain temperature.

    Lillico said burns should be cooled immediately with hot water. She said ice should never be put on burns because ice may stick to the skin, and when pulled off it may remove another protectant layer of skin.

    Lee Moss, a family nurse practitioner in the outpatient clinic at the Intermountain Burn Center at the University of Utah Hospital, said last year was the burn clinic’s busiest year ever with more than 3,200 patient visits.

    Moss said the burn clinic sees as many children with burns as adults. He said what causes burns is usually age-related. As people get older they are exposed to more things that present different dangers.

    Moss sees burns at the clinic from a variety of heat sources including household chemicals, grease from cooking and especially hot water.

    The month of July is especially busy at burn clinics in the state of Utah because of fireworks for the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day, Moss said.

    Moss said the seriousness of the burn depends on where on the body the burn is and how deep the skin is burned.

    Burns on joints of the body are especially concerning to doctors because the person could lose function of the joint, Moss said.

    The burn clinic offers physical and occupational therapy and skin grafts beyond the basic wound care, Moss said.

    If people have any questions about how to treat burns, they should call the Intermountain Burn clinic at (801) 581-2700.

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