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Tips for Preventing Scald Burns

March 15, 2016

A burn injury occurs every 70 seconds, and nearly 69,000 people went to the emergency room in 2013 because of burn injuries associated with household appliances, according to the American Burn Association.

Scald burns, which are burns caused by hot liquids or steam, can occur when you accidently spill hot liquid on yourself or step into a hot bathtub or shower without checking the temperature first. Scald burns can become red or blistered and can develop into serious injuries.

Here are tips for how you can prevent scald burns and stay safe.

Facts about Scald Burn Injuries

More than 450,000 burn injuries occur in the U.S. every year. Children and the elderly have the greatest risk of experiencing these injuries. About 30 percent of patients admitted to burn centers were children under age 16. Children likely make up a significant percentage of burn victims because they can easily turn on hot water in a bathtub or reach for a pot on the stove even while being closely supervised. Elderly adults are more susceptible to falls and burns may accidentally occur as they step into the bath or prepare a meal on the stove or in the microwave.

Scald burns can be severe or life-threatening, especially for young children.

Scald Burn Prevention

Scald burns are preventable. These burns often occur when caregivers are hurried or feeling pressure — which can happen to any of us. A little more caution and awareness can minimize your risk for scald burns. Just follow these tips:

●      Nearly 90 percent of scald burns are related to cooking, drinking or serving hot liquids. Coffee, which often is served at 175°F, poses a significant risk for burns. Adults should give their drinks some time to cool before sipping them. If you are serving a child a hot drink, test it first. 

●      Keep children at a safe distance while cooking and double check their location before you move pots or pans with hot liquids from one area of the kitchen to another.

Point handles so that they are out of reach.

●      Remove all tripping hazards, such as area rugs and electrical cords, from near the stove.

●      Carefully test hot water in the bathtub or shower by quickly moving your hands through it before getting in. The boiling point of water may be 212°F, but hot water will burn your skin at only 148°F. Children’s skin is more sensitive than adults, and all it takes is two seconds of exposure at this temperature to cause a serious burn injury. Make sure to keep water at no more than 100°F.

●      Never leave a young child near the stove or in the bathtub unattended and carefully supervise an elderly parent who is susceptible to falls.

●      Install anti-scald devices on faucets and shower heads to control hot water and reduce the risk of burn injuries.

Most burns are caused by hot liquids rather than hot flames, but most people are more concerned about the latter. A little more caution will prevent most scald injuries, so be fully present and aware of your surroundings when you cook, run the bath or prepare your morning coffee. Making this effort will keep you and your family safe.


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