Preventing Scald Burns
National Burn Awareness Week (NBAW) is right around the corner! Launched by the American Burn Association (ABA), this week is an opportunity to kick off the year with burn awareness education. NBAW is a perfect time to bring additional awareness to the lifelong healing after a burn injury by educating the community on scald burns and household prevention tactics.
A scald injury is classified as damage to one or more layers of skin caused by something wet (think hot water or steam). According to ABA, an estimated 376,950 scald burn injuries associated with consumer household appliances and products were seen in hospital emergency rooms in the United States between 2013 and 2017. Scalds comprise 35% of all burn injuries admitted to US burn centers.
Those at Risk
A scald burn injury can happen to anyone, but children, elderly, and those with disabilities have the highest risk of scald burns. ABA reports that 60% of all scald injuries are suffered by children under the age of 4, and 75% of all burns to young children are scalds. Children are naturally curious and have a limited understanding of danger. They are also less mobile, so react slower if they come into contact with hot substances.
Along with older adults, children have thinner skin, so burn injuries can occur at a lower temperature or a shorter exposure time. As with children, older adults have reduced mobility, and they may not have the same reaction time they used to. Additionally, those with disabilities have a high risk because sensory, physical, and/or mental impairment may reduce their ability to recognize and avoid dangerous situations.
While educating the community on scald burns is important, it is also crucial to prevent these injuries from occurring. As mentioned above, the kitchen and dining rooms are common areas that scald injuries occur. The bathroom, particularly the bathtub, is another common site of scalds. Hot tap water (from the bath or shower), hot beverages (mainly coffee and tea), hot food (from cooking or being carried) and steam (in a work environment or microwave) frequently cause scald burns.
To prevent a scald burn, there are many steps to follow. Making household modifications in the kitchen, bathroom, and dining area are easy ways to lower the risk.
- Turn all pan handles away from the stove front and designate a “kids-free” zone to help keep children away from the stove and oven.
- Lack of supervision is a common factor that contributes to scald injuries, so be sure always to pay close attention when a child is in the kitchen. Keep hot food and liquids high and out of reach.
- Coil all appliance cords and keep them away from the counter edge.
- Install a non-slip bath mat and grab bar for older adults or those with physical disabilities.
- Avoid flushing toilets, running water, washing clothes, or using the dishwasher while anyone is showering.
- Establish a safe hot water temperature at or below 120 degrees Fahrenheit or 48 degrees. If this is not possible, install a tempering valve or safe faucet and shower head.
During NBAW, you can help prevent scald burn injuries from occurring and keep your family safe by increasing your prevention measures and raising awareness. Be sure to follow Phoenix Society on Facebook for more information on scald burns, NBAW Facts of the Day, Facebook Live events, and other helpful resources!