Find out how to prevent minor burns and how to treat them if they happen
“This is the time of year where we’re outside and around campfires and barbecue pits,” said Susan Burchfield Injury Prevention/Outreach Coordinator. “And those situations just create hazards.”
Anything that has a heat source can potentially cause a burn.
“Things like sparklers seem so innocent, but the temperature on those is outrageous,” Ms. Burchfield said. “It would cause a severe burn if your child was to touch the wire that had been burning.”
But burns don’t just happen around the Fourth of July. They happen all year long, and there is a lot parents can do to prevent and treat minor burns.
“The burn we see most frequently with children would be a scald burn—either from hot bathtub water or a hot beverage or liquid being spilled on them in the kitchen,” Ms. Burchfield said.
Here are few steps to follow if your child is burned by one of these sources.
- Remove the child from the burn source.
- Cool it with cool (not cold), running water – keep it under the water for three minutes or longer.
- Do not put ice or butter on the burn.
- Call your child’s doctor or 911 if your child does not get relief from cool water or if the skin looks raised or blisters.
“Butter really holds in the heat and can make a burn more severe,” Ms. Burchfield said. “And the ice can complicate things and give you almost the effect of a frozen burn.”
How can these types of burns be prevented?
The injury prevention specialist said that the best way to prevent scalding is to check the degree of heat coming out of the faucets in your home.
“We suggest that you set your water heater somewhere around 120 degrees,” she said. “Depending on what your water heater looks like, it’s probably somewhere just below medium.”
Some people believe that changing the water heater temperature will make their appliances less efficient. But Ms. Burchfield said even if there is a small amount of electricity loss, it will be worth the safety of your children.
However, if you opt not to change your water heater temperature, or if you are unable to change the temperature, there are a few other ways to help prevent scalding.
“When you’re finished filling the tub for your child’s bath, run your hand through the water and make sure there are no hot spots or pockets,” Ms. Burchfield said. “There are also special spouts and shower heads that you can get at a home improvement store that mix the water better and even shut off if they sense a potentially dangerous water temperature.”
Another danger zone for scalds and minor burns is the kitchen. These types of scalds can be prevented by avoiding hot beverages while holding a young child, and turning pot handles in, away from a child’s reach.
Micro-waved food and formula can also pose a potential threat to an infant or small child.
“When you’ve finished heating a bottle in the microwave, shake the bottle so the liquid mixes together,” she said. “And stir food to make sure there are no hot spots. Then bring it to your lips to make sure it is not too hot.”
Ms. Burchfield even suggests marking off areas of your kitchen and teaching your children that these are no kid zones.
“It kind of says to the child, stop at this point and don’t get any closer to the hot surface,” she said.
She also wants remind parents that children’s skin is much more sensitive and is thinner than adult skin. What could be tolerable to us may be potentially dangerous to them.
If you’re not sure if you should seek medical treatment for a burn after regular doctor’s office hours, then contact the Scott & White VitalCare Nurse Advice Line at 1-877-505-7947.