Burn Safety

Every day, 435 children ages 0 to 19 are treated in emergency rooms for burn-related injuries and two children die as a result of being burned. Burn safety is a foreign concept to most young children. In fact, one of the most difficult lessons young children learn is that some things — such as stoves, radiators and flickering flames — can be painfully hot. If children play with matches or lighters, the threat can extend to the entire family.

Take burn safety precautions to prevent injuries and dangerous situations.

Burn safety at home

Courtesy: Elijah Hiett for Unsplash

Many ordinary things in a home — including bath water, food and electrical outlets — can cause childhood burns. To prevent burns at home:

  • Reduce water temperature. Set the thermostat on your hot water heater to below 120 F (48.9 C). Aim for bath water around 100 F (38 C). Check the temperature of bath water with your hand before putting your child in the bath.
  • Avoid hot spills. Don’t cook, drink, or carry hot beverages or foods while holding a child. Keep hot foods and liquids away from table and counter edges. Don’t use tablecloths or place mats, which young children can pull down. Turn the handles of your pots and pans toward the rear of the stove and use back burners when possible. Don’t leave the stove unattended when you’re cooking.
  • Establish ‘no’ zones. Block access to the stove, fireplace, space heaters and radiators. Don’t leave a child unattended in a room when these items are in use.
  • Keep hot devices out of reach. Store items designed to get hot, such as clothes irons or curling irons, unplugged and out of reach.
  • Test food temperature before feeding young children. Be careful with food or liquids warmed in a microwave, which might heat foods unevenly. Never warm a baby’s bottle in the microwave.
  • Choose a cool-mist vaporizer. They prevent steam burns.
  • Address outlets and electrical cords. Cover unused electrical outlets with safety caps. Keep electrical cords and wires out of the way so that children don’t pull on or chew on them. Replace frayed, broken or worn electrical cords.
  • Choose fire-resistant fabrics. Check labels to make sure mattresses and pajamas meet federal flammability standards.

To prevent burns from scalding water:

Check water heater temperature. Set your water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Infants who aren’t walking yet can’t get out of water that may be too hot, and maintaining a constant thermostat setting can help control the water temperature throughout your home—preventing it from getting too high.

Burn safety outdoors

To protect children from outdoor hazards:

  • Watch grills, fire pits and camp fires. Never leave them unattended.
  • Check car seats. Before placing your child in a car seat, check for hot straps or buckles. If you park in direct sunlight, cover the car seat with a towel or blanket.
  • Avoid backyard fireworks. Don’t let children play with or near fireworks or sparklers.

For more on Campfire Safety, visit this page.

Courtesy: Chris Rhoades for Unsplash

Carbon monoxide, or “CO,” is an odorless, colorless gas that can kill you.

CO is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces. CO can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it. Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning. Infants, the elderly, people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or breathing problems are more likely to get sick from CO. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized.

 

The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • upset stomach
  • vomiting
  • chest pain
  • confusion

CO symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” If you breathe in a lot of CO it can make you pass out or kill you. People who are sleeping or drunk can die from CO poisoning before they have symptoms.

CO poisoning prevention in your home:

  • Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home. Check or replace the detector’s battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Place your detector where it will wake you up if it alarms, such as outside your bedroom. Consider buying a detector with a digital readout. This detector can tell you the highest level of CO concentration in your home in addition to alarming. Replace your CO detector every five years.
  • Have your heating system, water heater, and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters indoors.
  • If you smell an odor from your gas refrigerator have an expert service it. An odor from your gas refrigerator can mean it could be leaking CO.
  • When you buy gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as Underwriters’ Laboratories.
  • Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly. Horizontal vent pipes for appliances, such as a water heater, should go up slightly as they go toward outdoors, as shown below. This prevents CO from leaking if the joints or pipes aren’t fitted tightly.
  • Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can be blocked by debris. This can cause CO to build up inside your home or cabin.
  • Never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum, or something else. This kind of patch can make CO build up in your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Never use a gas range or oven for heating. Using a gas range or oven for heating can cause a build up of CO inside your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal – red, gray, black, or white – gives off CO.
  • Never use a portable gas camp stove indoors. Using a gas camp stove indoors can cause CO to build up inside your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Never use a generator inside your home, basement, or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door, or vent.
  • When using a generator, use a battery-powered or battery backup CO detector in your home.

CO poisoning prevention for your vehicle:

  • Have a mechanic check the exhaust system of your car or truck every year. A small leak in the exhaust system can lead to a build up of CO inside the car.
  • Never run your car or truck inside a garage that is attached to a house even with the garage door open. Always open the door to a detached garage to let in fresh air when you run a car or truck inside.
  • If you drive a car or SUV with a tailgate, when you open the tailgate open the vents or windows to make sure air is moving through. If only the tailgate is open CO from the exhaust will be pulled into the car or

What if myself or someone in my home is deaf or hard of hearing?

There are smoke alarms and alert devices that alert people who are deaf or hard of hearing. These devices include strobe lights that flash to alert people when the smoke alarm sounds. Pillow or bed shakers designed to work with your smoke alarm also can be purchased and installed. These work by shaking the pillow or bed when the smoke alarm sounds. These products can be found online and in stores that sell smoke and CO alarms.

Make sure to choose smoke alarms and accessories for people who are deaf or hard of hearing that are listed by a qualified testing laboratory. It’s also good practice to sleep with your mobile phone and your hearing aids or implants close to your bed.

Make sure your smoke and CO alarms meet the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities.
Some tips:

  • Install a bedside alert device that responds to the sound of the smoke and CO alarms. Use of a low frequency alarm can also wake a sleeping person with mild to severe hearing loss.
  • Sleep with your mobility device, glasses, and phone close to your bed.
  • Keep pathways like hallways lit with night lights and free from clutter to make sure everyone can get out safely.

Source: National Fire Protection Agency

What you do to treat a burn in the first few minutes after it occurs can make a huge difference in the severity of the injury.

Immediate Treatment for Burn Victims

  1. “Stop, Drop, and Roll” to smother flames.
  2. Remove all burned clothing. If clothing adheres to the skin, cut or tear around burned area.
  3. Remove all jewelry, belts, tight clothing, etc., from over the burned areas and from around the victim’s neck. This is very important; burned areas swell immediately.

First-degree burns involve the top layer of skin. Sunburn is a first-degree burn.

Signs:

  • Red
  • Painful to touch
  • Skin will show mild swelling

Treatment:

  • Apply cool, wet compresses, or immerse in cool, fresh water. Continue until pain subsides.
  • Cover the burn with a sterile, non-adhesive bandage or clean cloth.
  • Do not apply ointments or butter to burn; these may cause infection.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications may be used to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
  • First degree burns usually heal without further treatment. However, if a first-degree burn covers a large area of the body, or the victim is an infant or elderly, seek emergency medical attention.

Information Courtesy: Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Fire Administration, American Academy of Pediatrics, Smokey for Kids

Second-degree burns involve the first two layers of skin.

 Signs:

  • Deep reddening of the skin
  • Pain
  • Blisters
  • Glossy appearance from leaking fluid
  • Possible loss of some skin

Treatment:

  • Immerse in fresh, cool water, or apply cool compresses. Continue for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Dry with clean cloth and cover with sterile gauze.
  • Do not break blisters.
  • Do not apply ointments or butter to burns; these may cause infection
  • Elevate burned arms or legs.
  • Take steps to prevent shock: lay the victim flat, elevate the feet about 12 inches, and cover the victim with a coat or blanket. Do not place the victim in the shock position if a head, neck, back, or leg injury is suspected, or if it makes the victim uncomfortable.
  • Further medical treatment is required. Do not attempt to treat serious burns unless you are a trained health professional.

Information Courtesy: Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Fire Administration, American Academy of Pediatrics, Smokey for Kids

A third-degree burn penetrates the entire thickness of the skin and permanently destroys tissue.

Signs:

  • Loss of skin layers
  • Often painless. (Pain may be caused by patches of first- and second-degree burns which often surround third-degree burns)
  • Skin is dry and leathery
  • Skin may appear charred or have patches that appear white, brown or black.

Treatment:

  • Cover burn lightly with sterile gauze or clean cloth. (Don’t use material that can leave lint on the burn).
  • Do not apply ointments or butter to burns; these may cause infection
  • Take steps to prevent shock: lay the victim flat, elevate the feet about 12 inches.
  • Have person sit up if face is burned. Watch closely for possible breathing problems.
  • Elevate burned area higher than the victim’s head when possible. Keep person warm and comfortable, and watch for signs of shock.
  • Do not place a pillow under the victim’s head if the person is lying down and there is an airway burn. This can close the airway.
  • Immediate medical attention is required. Do not attempt to treat serious burns unless you are a trained health professional.

Information Courtesy: Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Fire Administration, American Academy of Pediatrics, Smokey for Kids