Every year in the United States, more than 1 million people are injured from burns. Approximately 45,000 of those are admitted to hospitals across the country.
February 1 kicks off our annual Burn Awareness Week at the University of Vermont Medical Center. This is part of a national effort that runs February 1-7, 2016.
Despite burn education across the country, one-third of hospital admissions are children. On average, one child dies every day from a burn-related injury. Among children ages 14 and under, hair curlers and curling irons, room heaters, oven and ranges, irons, gasoline and fireworks are the most common causes of product-related burn injuries.
at the UVM Medical Center, the most common type of injury we see is either flame burns or scald burns (caused by hot water).
You can change the statistics! How? Prevention is the key. Take these 7 steps to keep you and your family safe:
- Check your smoke detectors. Working smoke detectors reduce your risk of dying in a home fire by half.
- Check your hot water heaters. Tap water burns are one of the most common type of burn. Hot water heaters should be set at a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Avoid using gasoline or other accelerants to set fires. This is one of the most common burn we see. Flash burns from accelerants can be very severe, requiring skin grafting and months to years of healing.
- Mark a boundary near the stove or cooking area and teach your children that this is a “kid-free” zone. Turn pot handles in toward the stove to prevent them from being knocked off the stove.
- Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children. Just last week in Burlington we had a house fire that was related to a child playing with matches. We have had several admissions during the last year of children who were playing with fire and were severely burned. Teach your children the dangers of fire.
- Have an escape plan and practice it as a family. Learn two ways out of every room and agree on a meeting place outside the house.
- Heat cooking oil slowly to avoid burns from spattered grease. If a grease fire occurs do not put water on it as this will amplify it as well as increase your risk of serious burns. Cover the fire with a lid, a damp (not wet) towel or use baking soda to extinguish the fire. Do not attempt to carry the pan outside as this increases your risk of spilling the hot grease causing major burns.
- Do not overload electrical outlets and replace any electrical items that show signs of wear, such as frayed wires.
Putting these simple prevention tips into action may be life-saving!
If unfortunately you or your loved ones are burned, just know we are here to help. We have dedicated nurses, therapists and physicians committed to giving you the best care possible.
Margaret Tandoh, MD, is a trauma and burn surgeon and director of the Burn Center at the UVM Medical Center.