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Scalds - A Burning Issue: Burn Awareness Week 2014

Scald injuries affect all ages. They account for over 200,000 pediatric burns per year and are among the most common form of burn according to the American Burn Association. That's why it's the focal point for 2014's Burn Awareness Week.

An everyday danger, scald burns occur at random. Everyday tasks from ironing clothes, to hot tap water, or giving your child a bath can all lead to serious injury.

"Most burn injuries occur at home," explained Dr. Michael Cooper, director of North Shore-LIJ Health System's Regional Burn Center at Staten Island University Hospital.

Dr. Cooper cities many of the burns he see's are preventable. "We see many burns from the home, primarily from the kitchen and bathroom when hot water is being used."

Dr. Cooper's burn prevention prescription: Awareness. "Preventing burns from happening in the first place is always my best treatment option," said Cooper.

Although anyone can sustain a scald burn, infants, young children, older adults and people with disabilities and other medical complications are at a higher risk. Dr. Cooper explained: "these risk groups are more likely to require hospitalization and more focused care for their burns."

To help raise awareness, the burn center will be closing the trading floor on February 6, 2014, ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

Household Burn Safety Tips:

  • Set home water heater thermostats to deliver water at a temperature no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit / 48 degree Celsius. An easy method to test this is to allow hot water to run for three to five minutes, and then test with a candy, meat or water thermometer. Adjust the water heater and wait a day to let the temperature drop. Re-test and re-adjust.
  • Provide constant adult supervision of young children or anyone who may experience difficulty removing themselves from hot water on their own. Gather all necessary supplies before placing a child in the tub, and keep them within easy reach.
  • Fill tub to desired level before getting in. Run cold water first, then add hot. Turn off the hot water first. This can prevent scalding in case someone should fall in while the tub is filling. Mix the water thoroughly and check the temperature by moving your elbow, wrist or hand with spread fingers through the water before allowing someone to get in.
  • Install grab bars, shower seats or non-slip flooring in tubs or showers if the person is unsteady or weak.
  • Avoid flushing toilets, running water or using the dish- or clothes washer while anyone is showering.
  • Install anti-scald or tempering devices. These heat sensitive instruments stop or interrupt the flow of water when the temperature reaches a pre-determined level and prevent hot water that is too hot from coming out of the tap.

Cooking-related scalds are also easy to prevent. Some things you can do to make your home safer from cooking-related burns include:

  • Establish a "kid zone" out of the traffic path between the stove and sink where children can safely play and still be supervised. Keep young children in high chairs or play yards, a safe distance from counter- or stovetops, hot liquids, hot surfaces or other cooking hazards.
  • Cook on back burners when young children are present. Keep all pot handles turned back, away from the stove edge. All appliance cords should be coiled and away from the counter edge. During mealtime, place hot items in the center of the table, at least 10 inches from the table edge. Use non-slip placemats instead of tablecloths if toddlers are present.
  • Never drink or carry hot liquids while carrying or holding a child. Quick motions may cause spilling of the liquid onto the child.

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