National Burn Awareness: Prevention is Key

Elana Pruitt

by Elana Pruitt | February 11, 2011 @ 03:00PM

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As National Burn Awareness Week comes to an end, the goal of this observance shouldn’t be ignored or brushed aside lightly. According to the American Burn Association (ABA), “Burn Awareness Week, observed the first full week in February, is designed to provide an opportunity for burn, fire and life safety educators to unite in sharing a common burn awareness and prevention message in our communities. Burn Awareness Week, celebrated early in the year, is an excellent opportunity to ‘kick off’ a year full of burn awareness education.” It is a week that encourage people to take actions that will keep loved ones and particularly children, safe from fire and burn hazards.

According to FEMA, “Each year on average 18,300 Americans are injured, and more than 3,500 die in fires, with children age 14 and under making up 10-15 percent of all fire deaths.” And while it is likely that most people think burns are predominantly caused by accidents involving fire, according to Dr. Shankar Lakshman, a Pasadena plastic surgeon, the number one cause of burns is by hot liquids, which is also known as “scald injuries.” He says that hot liquids can be just as dangerous as fires, but reveals that changes in behavior and the home environment can greatly help to prevent scald injuries.   

Third degree burns involve the most treatment – skin grafting (first and second degree burns usually heal with little to no scarring). This is a surgical procedure in which skin or a skin substitute (synthetic skin, which Dr. Lakshman prefers to use) is placed over a burn or non-healing wound. This type of covering is necessary because the skin is an important part of the body; it protects the body from fluid loss, aids in temperature regulation, and helps to prevent disease-causing bacteria or viruses from entering the body. If left untreated, extensively damaged skin by burns can put the health and well-being of the patient at risk.

Here is a collection of essential safety tips, as provided by Dr. Lakshman, FEMA, and the National Scald Prevention Partnership, that should not be overlooked:

  • A child taking a bath must always be supervised in order to monitor the temperature and to help remove him or her from hot water if needed.
  • Set water heaters no more than 120 Fahrenheit/48 degree Celsius. (Let the water run for at least three to five minutes before using it).
  • Clearly label hot and cold water faucets (especially with children).
  • Cook on the back burner and keep all pot handles turned away from the stove edge (in case something falls over and there are children around).
  • Establish a “No-Kid Zone” between the sink and the stove where children play safely and still be supervised.
  • Wear fitting clothes or short sleeves when cooking on the stove (loose sleeves could get caught near the flames).
  • Avoid flushing toilets, running water or using the dish- or clothes washer while anyone is showering.
  • Test smoke alarms each month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
  • Always tuck away cords from appliances where children cannot reach them.
  • Have fireplace flues and chimneys inspected for leakage and blockage from creosote or debris.
  • Place space heaters on a floor that is flat and level. Avoid putting them on rugs or carpets.

At, we strive to provide you with important information regarding your health and body. Be safe! If you have some of your own safety tips, please feel free to comment below and share with our readers.

*Image by matthewvenn

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