Editor's note: The following is a press release issued by the Plainfield Fire Protection District:
The week of February 3rd through the 9th is Burn Awareness Week. This year’s topic is “Scalds – A Burning Issue.” Most scald burns happen to young children, older adults and disabled people. Young children and older adults have thinner skin that is more susceptible to burns and people with physical disabilities are at higher risk of burn injuries due to mobility impairments.
Scald burns are usually caused by hot foods, hot beverages and hot tap water.
Some tips courtesy of the fire department:
- To prevent scald burns from hot food, establish a kid-free zone in the kitchen while cooking.
- Advise children to stay away from the stove and sink while you’re cooking.
- Use the back burners of your stove to lessen the chance of children coming into contact with pots on the stove.
- Always keep pot handles turned inward to prevent the handle from being knocked into by you, or pulled down by a child.
- Keep small kitchen appliance cords tucked away from the edge of the counter to prevent the appliance from getting knocked or pulled down by its cord.
- Microwave safety tips include allowing containers and foods to stand for at least one minute before opening them.
- Opening lids of hot food can release steam that can cause a burn. Always open the lid or covering carefully.
- Never heat baby bottles of formula or milk in the microwave, especially those with plastic liners. When the bottle gets inverted the plastic liner can burst spilling the hot liquid on the baby. Always mix the formula well and test it for how hot it is on the back of your hand or wrist before feeding a baby.
- Always remember that foods heat unevenly in microwaves; for example, jelly and cream fillings in pastries may be extremely hot while the outside of the pastry is warm.
- Always stir and test food before eating it right out of the microwave.
- Scald burns caused by hot liquids are also common. Never hold or drink a hot liquid at the same time you’re holding or carrying a child.
- When children are present consider using travel mugs with secure lids for hot beverages.
- Don’t place hot beverages on low tables or near the edge of tables where children can access them.
- Scald burns from hot tap water can be easily prevented. Start by setting your water heater thermostat at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t set the thermostat any higher.
- You can test your water temperature by allowing the hot water to run for several minutes and then use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.
- If you live in an apartment or condominium where you don’t have access to adjust the water heater temperature consider installing anti-scald devices on your faucets.
- Anti-scald devices work by stopping or interrupting the flow of water when the temperature reaches a pre-determined level. Anti-scald devices can be found at most hardware, plumbing and baby stores.
- When filling the tub, turn the faucet back toward the cold setting to prevent hot water from coming out if a child turns the faucet back on.
- Supervising children and anyone with mobility impairments while bathing is the best way to prevent tap water scalds.
- If you must leave the bathroom while a child is bathing always take the child with you, never leave a child alone in a bathtub.
- If flushing the toilets, running water, using the dish washer or clothes washer causes sudden fluctuations in water temperature while showering or filling the bathtub, advise other family members to avoid doing these things while someone is showering or bathing.
- Besides cooking and hot water, scald burns can also be caused by other household things such as potpourri pots. Locate them where they cannot be reached by children or knocked over.
- Hot steam vaporizers should be placed on a level surface to prevent tipping. Keep the vaporizer out of the reach of children and always allow the water to cool before emptying the vaporizer.
- Home radiators have pressure valves that should not be removed or released; repairs to these units should always be done by a professional. Car radiator caps should never be removed unless the engine is cool.
With safety in mind most scald burns can be prevented.
For more information about burn prevention and safety please visit the American Burn Association’s web site at www.ameriburn.org or the Shriners Hospitals for Children burn prevention web page at www.burnawareness.org or the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance’s website at www.ifsa.org.
For more fire and life safety information please contact the Plainfield Fire Protection District Fire Inspector Mary Ludemann at 815-436-5335 or visit www.plainfieldfpd.com.