Susan Schmunk, CSTR, CAISS
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on average, every day, 300 children ages 0 to 19 are treated in emergency rooms across the country for burn-related injuries and two children die as a result of being burned.
Many of these burns are scald injuries. These can occur when a child pulls down or spills something that is extremely hot on themselves. Most often this happens in the kitchen. Turn pots so handles aren’t pointing out and set coffee cups and bowls of soup or other hot foods in the center of the counter or table, instead of at the edge.
A common culprit in the 2 out of 10 scald burns that send kids to the emergency room is instant soups and noodles that are prepared in the microwave. These injuries most often involve the torso and can occur while cooking, eating, removing the item from the microwave or walking with it. Many of the cups that these items come in have narrow bases and are tall, making them top heavy. When you combine this easy tip ability with the fact that many contain noodles that are very sticky, you have the potential to cause very serious burns.
Watch out for dangling cords as well. This includes cords for things like curling irons, clothing irons, lamps and crockpots. Children can cruise by and pull on a cord, bringing down whatever is plugged in. Go room to room in your home, if you have children, to assess for potential hazards.
It is not just toddlers that can get burned. Older children or teens are developmentally inclined to take risks, such as putting gas on a bonfire. Parental supervision and modeling can play a role in mitigating this behavior.
Mufflers of motorcycles or cars and lawn mowers can all be sources of contact burns. These can occur in younger and older children. The glass front on fireplaces can become hot and a source of such burns as well. Place a barrier, such as a baby safety fence, that comes out from the fireplace and around the hearth to keep younger children away from the glass front.
Button batteries in toys are a swallowing hazard. Consumer protection law now requires that the battery compartments be secured with a screw. But other devices such as remote controls for TVs, electronics, key fobs and singing cards, etc., may have accessible batteries. If the battery gets suck in a child’s esophagus, it can cause very severe burns, and a few fatalities have occurred in instances where a button battery burned a hole in a child’s esophagus.
- Water heaters in homes where children live should be set at 120 or less
- Check to be sure your microwave is not at a level where children can access them.
Should a burn occur follow the four steps below:
- Remove the offending heat source immediately
- Apply a cool compress to the affected area. Ice should not be used to cool the area as it might freeze the tissue and increase the injury. Instead, use a wash cloth with cool water.
- Continue to replace the compress on the burned area to ensure it stays cool.
- Seek immediate medical care as soon as possible.