Burning questions

Preventing painful and dangerous scalding requires care, attention
Feb. 11, 2013 @ 12:09 AM

National Burn Awareness Week draws attention to the dangers lurking in the home and elsewhere when fire is mishandled or ignored. The State Fire Marshal’s Office is joining the American Burn Association to promote this year’s focus on scald burns.

“Although anyone can sustain a scald burn, certain people are more likely to be scalded – infants, young children, older adults and people with disabilities. These high-risk groups are also more likely to require hospitalization, suffer complications and experience a difficult recovery,” said State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak. “Most burn injuries occur in the person’s own home, and the vast majority of these injuries can be prevented.”

Scald injuries require prolonged treatment. They can result in lifelong scarring or even death. Preventing scalds can be accomplished through these tips McPeak provides:

Tap-water scalds, and burns

- Adequate and constant supervision is the single most important factor in preventing tap water scalds. Provide constant adult supervision of young children, anyone who might experience difficulty removing themselves from hot water on their own, or people who might not recognize the danger associated with turning on the hot water.

- Set water heater thermostats to deliver water at a temperature no higher than 120° F.

- Mix bath 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.

- Turn the faucet to the “COLD” position when not in use if the tub has a single faucet handle.

- When bathing young children, position them away from faucets to prevent them from being able to reach faucet knobs. Again, keep faucets set to the “COLD” position.

Cooking-related scalds and burns

- To prevent spills due to the overturning of appliances containing hot food or liquids, use the back burner when possible, and or turn pot handles away from the stove’s front edge (or any edge where someone could bump into the pot handles). All appliance cords need to be kept coiled and away from counter edges.

- Use oven mitts or potholders when moving hot food from ovens, microwave ovens or stovetops. Never use wet oven mitts or potholders, because they can cause scald burns. Replace old or worn-out oven mitts.

- Open heated food containers slowly, away from the face, to avoid steam burns. Steam escaping from the container or from food can cause burns.

- Foods heat unevenly in microwave ovens. Stir and test before eating.