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Scald Burns
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Fire is an untrustworthy ally

We couldn't do without it; yet fires kill and injure thousands of people every year, and cause billions of dollars of property damage. Ironically, most fires and burn injuries occur where we feel safest: our own homes. Even more ironically, more than half of these tragic deaths and injuries could easily be avoided. All it takes is education -- teaching people how to take the precautions that could save their lives.

Hot Liquids Burn Like Fire

Thousands of scald burns occur annually in the U.S., and the two high risk populations are children under the age of 5 and adults over 65.

Did you know...

* Hot liquids can cause life-threatening burn injuries.
* Scalds are the number one cause of burn injury to children under age 4.
* Burn accidents frequently occur when parents or caregivers are in a hurry, angry, or under a lot of pressure.
* Coffee, tea, soup and hot tap water can be hot enough to cause a serious burn injury.
* Scald and steam burns are often associated with microwave oven use.
* When hot tap water reaches 140° F, it can cause a full-thickness, third-degree burn in just five seconds.
* Hot tap water accounts for 17% of all childhood scald hospitalizations.

Scalds in the Kitchen

Ways of preventing/controlling scald injuries Continuous and adequate supervision of children in the kitchen is of prime importance. As a child's mobility and curiosity increases, appropriate supervision becomes essential. Control a young child's activity while he/she is in the kitchen and when food is being prepared. High chairs, feeding tables, playpens, etc. can control children and allow supervision during daily kitchen activities.

Keep children out of the "traffic path" and check their location before moving any hot liquids in the kitchen. Keep all hot liquids at a safe distance from children.

Take time to fix meals without rushing. Keep pot handles turned toward the back of the stove. Cook on rear burners when possible.

Use a "fill-through-the-spout" teapot, the kind without a lid and with a whistle in the spout, to prevent "spilled water" scalds in the kitchen. Test all heated liquid and food before giving it to a child or placing it within his reach.

Remove tablecloths when toddlers are present in the home. They tug and pull on everything within reach. Hot liquids can easily be pulled down on them.

Never hold a child while drinking a hot liquid. Be sure to inform baby-sitters about kitchen and appliance safety and teach them to prevent burn injuries when preparing meals. Purchase appliances with short cords, and keep all cords from dangling over the edge of counters, e.g. slow cookers, coffee pots, fat fryers, and anything else that could contain hot liquids.

Periodically check all handles on appliances and cooking utensils to ensure the handles are tightly fastened and will afford proper heat protection.

Use caution when moving heavy pots of hot liquids from the stove. Consider marking a "No-Zone" in front of the kitchen stove. Teach children to remain out of this zone. This can be done with colored tape on the floor.

Children should not be allowed to use a cooking/heating appliance until they are mature enough to understand safe-use procedures and tall enough to safely reach cooking surfaces and handle hot items.

Avoid using area rugs in the kitchen, especially near the stove. They can cause falls and scalds.

Hot Tap Water and Scald Burns

Thousands of tap water scald burns occur annually in the U.S., and the two high risk groups are children under the age of 5 and adults over 65. All of these burns are preventable.

The following measures will help you prevent or control tap water scalds: Continuous and adequate supervision of young children is the single most important factor in preventing tap water scald burns.

Before placing a child into the bath or getting into the tub yourself, test the temperature of the water by moving your hand rapidly through the water for several seconds. The temperature should not exceed 100°F/39°C. A child's delicate skin will burn more quickly than an adult's.

Never leave a young child unattended in the bathroom or tub.

Use extreme caution if bathing small children in the sink. Many sinks have single-lever faucets which are easy for small children to turn on.

Adjust the thermostat setting on your water heater to produce a temperature of 120° to 125° F or less. The lower the temperature, the lower the risk.

Consider installing "anti-scald" devices on tub faucets and shower heads to prevent accidental scalds.
Acknowledgements: Burn Institute, San Diego, CA
Shriners Burns Institute, Cincinnati, OH

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