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Preventing Florida Burn Injuries

According to the Burn Institute, about 2.4 million Americans sustain burn injuries each year. Of these, about 75,000 people require hospitalization while 650,000 require medical treatment. Burn injuries often occur as a result of fires, chemical burns, hot water burns, or as a result of car accidents.

Hot water burns are the most common cause of burn injuries to children, according to the Burn Institute. They are also a very preventable form of injury. Parents can protect their children from hot water burns by reducing the hot water heater temperature to 120 degrees F and by testing bath water before a child’s bath. Additionally, parents should avoid carrying hot water near children and should cook hot liquids on the back of the stove. In a household with younger children, do not use tablecloths, since a child can easily pull dishes and cups of hot water on themselves by tugging at the cloth. Careful supervision in the kitchen and the bathroom are also needed to prevent injuries.

In addition to hot water, everyday appliances and items – such as stoves and matches – can easily lead to childhood burn injuries. The Burn Institute recommends that to prevent such injuries, parents keep any hot appliance – including hair straighteners, curling irons, hair drivers, heaters, stoves, and other items – well secured from children. Matches, lighters, and flammable fluids should also be carefully locked away where children cannot get them.

Supervision is a key to burn prevention. Many burn injuries to minors and children occur because a child was playing with a dangerous item without adequate supervision. For this reason, it is important to blow out candles and turn off portable heaters when leaving a room. Do not allow children to play with fireworks. If you have gas or electric heaters or open fires in your home, install fire guards. Keep children away from outdoor grills. Use covers for electrical outlets to prevent electrical burns.

Hot packs, hot water bottles, and heating pads are soothing if you have aches and pains, but these items can also cause burns. You can prevent injuries caused by heating pads by inspecting your heating packs before each use. If a pack is damaged, replace it. Always carefully read and follow the instructions that came with your heating device and always use the protective cover that keeps the hot element of your heating pad from touching your skin. Do not use heating pads for more than 15 to 20 minutes per use and never place a heating pad underneath a person – always place it loosely on top of an affected area. Lying down on a heating pad or putting pressure on a heating pad underneath you can cause the device to overheat. Always use heating pads only on adults who are awake and in good physical condition.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, families can also help prevent burn injuries by installing a working smoke detector in the home and by developing a fire escape plan. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year. Buy and learn to use a fire extinguisher. Preventing fires can help prevent burn injuries as well.