It’s a topic that can never get enough attention, according to Dr. Fred Mullins: The danger of scald burns to children.
The medical director for the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, and the president of the Joseph M. Still Burn Centers, Inc., sees hundreds of children each year due to scald burns. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 60 percent of all scald injuries are to children ages 0-4.
“Most people don’t understand that there is a significant difference between the skin of a child and the skin of an adult,” Dr. Mullins said. “A young child’s skin is thinner than an adult’s, so not only does it take less time to get a burn, those burns can be much deeper.”
Scald burns are one of the main areas of focus for the American Burn Association’s Burn Awareness Week, which Joseph M. Still Burn Centers, Inc., is helping commemorate this week, Feb. 6-12.
“A burn is one of the most painful, traumatic injuries a person can suffer,” Dr. Mullins said. “We work hard to give our patients back their lives, but we also work hard to prevent burns from happening.”
Each year in the United States, fires and burns result in almost 4,000 deaths and more than 745,000 non-hospitalized injuries among all age groups, according to the ABA.
Scald burns, which occur when skin comes in contact with hot liquid or steam, are the leading cause of burns to children, Dr. Mullins said. Usually these burns are caused by kitchen accidents, but scalds can also occur at bath time.
“Parents need to look at the thermostat on their hot water heater,” Dr. Mullins said. “It should only be set at 120 degrees. If the temperature is hotter, the water can easily burn children. In fact, even if you have checked the thermostat, it is a good idea to check the temperature of the bath water every time too.”
Other tips for avoiding scald burns include:
• Never leave any unattended items on the stove top, and make sure all handles are out of the reach of children.
• Always use extra caution if you are using hot oil for cooking.
• Keep all hot items away from the sides of the table.
• Remember, items heated in the microwave can be exceptionally hot and cause internal burns.
• Try to avoid using tablecloths which could allow a child to pull hot liquids off a table.
This year, Burn Awareness Week has another focus: gasoline burns.
The National Gasoline Safety Project is using Burn Awareness Week to spread a simple message: Gas and Fire Never Mix. It may sound like a commonsense message, but it is one that needs to be repeated again and again, Dr. Mullins said.
“Gasoline burns can be some of the most devastating injuries we encounter,” Dr. Mullins said. “In many gas-related cases, we have to treat a combination of burns. Of course, there’s the fire burn, but we also see chemical burns associated with gasoline.”
Gasoline is not only dangerous in its liquid form. The vapors can also explode and cause serious injuries and property damage.
Dr. Mullins said gasoline should only be handled by adults, and even then there are several precautions to keep in mind:
• Carefully follow all safety precautions on gas cans.
• Only transport gasoline in containers designed for that purpose.
• Store and transport containers in well-ventilated areas and away from potential ignition sources.
• Never allow children to use or handle gasoline.
• Gas should never be used to fuel a fire.
• Always place container on the ground when filling to avoid static electricity ignition.
For more information about Burn Awareness Week, burn care or Joseph M. Still Burn Centers, Inc., call Jason B. Smith at (706) 855-6809 or (706) 832-7592 or www.stopgasfires.org.