Health Highlight: 10 tips to prevent scalds

Burn Awareness Week was celebrated in early February. This year’s campaign focused on scald prevention, which accounts for about 100,000 emergency room visits each year. These 10 tips can help keep your family safe from scalds.

Each year, about 100,000 people visit emergency rooms seeking treatment for scalding injuries. While minor scalds are common injuries, they are preventable. Follow these 10 tips to prevent scalds in your kitchens and bathrooms:

  1. Install tempering valves on faucets to keep the water temperature constant and anti-scald valves in the shower head to automatically turn off the flow if the cold water is turned off while the hot water is on.
  2. Supervise children and individuals with special needs in the bath or kitchen.
  3. Install grab bars on tubs and single faucet handles in tubs and bathroom sinks.
  4. Check your water heater, and if the temperature is higher than 120 degrees, dial it back accordingly.
  5. Test the temperature of the water before getting in or placing a child in a bath by running your hand, wrist or forearm quickly through the water.
  6. Establish a “kid-free” zone in the kitchen. An area at least three feet in front of the stove should be marked off with tape and the child instructed not to step inside that area. If that’s not possible, cook on back burners and keep pot handles turned inwards, so kids can’t pull them over.
  7. Never hold children while cooking, drinking a hot beverage or carrying hot foods.
  8. Open microwaved foods carefully, opening them away from you so steam releases safely. Always allow microwaved foods to cool before eating.
  9. Never heat a baby bottle in the microwave.
  10. Place hot liquids and foods in the center of the table where toddlers and young children can’t reach them.

Accidents can happen even in the most diligent of households. If your child is scalded, he or she should be treated by a medical professional if the burn is larger than a quarter.

For at-home burn care, make sure you know the proper first aid protocols before treating your child.

“Treat with cool water for three to five minutes and wrap in a clean dry gauze dressing,” advises Ernest Grant, RN, MSN, FAAN, outreach coordinator, at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals. “Do not apply ice to the burn area, as this may also cause a frost bite injury. Ointments, creams or solvents shouldn’t be applied as they hold the heat in the tissue and makes the injury deeper.”

If a blister appears, don’t pop it. Instead, watch the area for signs of an infection for two or three days post burn. Seek medical attention if there is any redness extending well beyond the border of the wound or if there is extreme pain.

For more burn prevention and treatment tips, visit N.C. Jaycee Burn Center online.

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