Every 60 seconds, someone in the United States sustains a burn injury serious enough to require treatment.
That startling statistic from the National Fire Protection Association should be enough to spur people to take action in preventing burns, which can be an easy task as burns are mainly preventable.
Thermal sources, including fire, hot liquids, steam, and contact with hot surfaces, are the most common causes of burns, the Cleveland Clinic said.
Childhood Burn Prevention
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 300 children (those age 19 and under) are treated in emergency rooms for burn-related injuries every day; of them, two children die because of being burned. Amber Emerson, RN, Trinity Health Trauma Services and coordinator of Safe Kids Minot, noted the best ways to prevent childhood burns, which include:
- Be sure with any gas fireplace there is a safety screen in place, being especially vigilant when visiting other homes
- Keep cords for appliances such as coffee pots and fryers away from countertop edges, where little hands might be able to reach them, same with hot food, keep to the back of the counter
- Avoid holding a child while cooking
- Teach children to stay a safe distance from the stove/cooktop
- Make sure smoke detectors are working
- Teach kids how to cook safely
The CDC noted that younger children are more likely to sustain injuries from scald burns that are caused by hot liquids or steam, while older children are more likely to sustain injuries from flame burns that are caused by direct contact with fire.
The most common causes for electrical fires include incorrectly installed wiring; overloaded circuits and extension cords; defective or improper plugs, switches, and outlets; and misuse and poor maintenance of lighting.
Electrical issues can be detected before danger hits, Emerson said.
These issues include:
- Flickering or dimming lights
- Switches or outlets that are hot to touch and/or emit an acrid odor
- Discolored cords, outlets, and switch plates
- Repeatedly blown fuses and tripped circuit breakers
If you experience any of these signs, contact a licensed electrician. To help prevent electrical fires:
- Don’t run cords under carpeting, bedding, or other combustible materials; also avoid placing cords across doorways or frequently traveled areas.
- Discard frayed or broken cords and never splice two cords together.
- Don’t overload outlets or use extension cords in place of outlets. Call an electrician to install additional outlets as necessary.
- Ensure plugs fit snugly in outlets to prevent shock and excess heat.
How to Treat Burns
If you suffer a minor burn:
- First cool the burn under cool, running water, or apply a cool – not cold – compress until the pain eases. (Do not use ice as that can cause further tissue damage.
- Then, remove any rings or other tight items before any swelling occurs.
- Leave blisters intact as they protect against infection. If the blister breaks, clean the area with water and apply antibiotic ointment. If a rash would occur, stop using the ointment.
- Cover the burn with a sterile gauze bandage and wrap it loosely to avoid pressure on the burn.
- Take an over-the-counter medicine to relieve pain.
- Consider getting a tetanus shot.
- Use a moisturizer and sunscreen until wound is healed.
If you suffer a major burn, or if it covers a large portion, it is best to be seen by a medical provider.
In 2018, Trinity Health partnered with Regions Hospital, a nationally recognized burn center in St. Paul, MN, to acquire devices called Teleburn iPads that provide initial assessment ,treatment advice, and follow-up care for burn patients brought to Trinity Health’s Emergency/Trauma Center.
As with any preventable injury, one of the main keys is to stay focused on the task at hand. Be sure to have working smoke detectors, as well as a fire safety plan, so that all the family members know what to do in case of a fire.