Pat Delaney, RN, CCRN, is a staff nurse in the Surgical and Pediatric ICU of the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Burn Awareness Week is February 4 through 10, 2018.

Nearly a HALF MILLION people experienced a burn in 2016. That led to almost 40,000 hospital admissions and 3,275 deaths (Source:American Burn Association). With winter in full force, this is a time to be aware of situations that result in burns, and learn how to prevent them.

Most of us have learned from Smokey the Bear how to prevent forest fires, and if we ever catch fire we need to stop, drop and roll. This week, take TWO MOMENTS to prepare yourself to avoid burns and other accidents in your home.

In the FIRST MOMENT, take the time to be fire safe at home.

  • Test your fire, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. It is great to change the batteries twice per year, but test them regularly to be sure they remain functional.
  • Have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, and be sure it is fully charged.
  • When cooking, keep all pot handles turned inward to avoid accidental spills. Also, when items come out of the oven, keep pot holders by the dish to let others know it is hot and can burn you.
  • Check your hot water tank. By keeping it set below 140 Fahrenheit, you greatly reduce the risk for scald burns. If it is 120 degrees, the risk is cut in half again, and your utility bills will be lower!!

In the SECOND MOMENT, be aware of others who assist in burn awareness and safety.

  • If you have a fire hydrant near you, keep it accessible. The time it will save the fire department in an emergency can save your life.
  • Keep your driveway access clear to further reduce the time it will take others to get to your home.
  • Be sure your E911 number is visible for EMS agencies. They are always prepared to aid in emergencies, including burns. Help them help you!

When a burn has occurred, the UVM Medical Center is the only facility west of Boston, east of Syracuse, and north of Westchester, NY, that cares for burn patients beyond the emergency room. The staff is constantly working to provide the best up-to-date care for all patient needs, including burns.

Hundreds of patients receive information and care of their burns at our medical center. From outpatient care, to major burn resuscitation, through rehabilitation, we are ready to help patients survive, and then thrive following their injury.

It only takes a moment for tragedy to strike. Please take two moments this week to be burn aware in your area.

Learn more about the Trauma and Burn Center at the UVM Medical Center. 

Pat Delaney, RN, CCRN, is a staff nurse in the Surgical and Pediatric ICU of the University of Vermont Medical Center. He has more than 25 years of critical care experience caring for burn patients.

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