Fire chiefs provide critical info for Burn Awareness Week

Posted By | February 6, 2020 1:02 pm

By Rachel Auberger

The first week of February has been declared National Burn Awareness Week, which is an initiative of the American Burn Association and brings together burn, fire, and life safety educators to make the public aware of the frequency, devastation, and causes of burn injury and reinforce measures to prevent these injuries.

According to the American Burn Association, burn injuries continue to be one of the leading causes of accidental death and injury in our nation, with an estimated 400,000 people receiving medical care for burn injuries each year.

“Tragically, children, the elderly, and the disabled are especially vulnerable to burn injuries, and almost one-third of all burn injuries occur in children under the age of 15,” the American Burn Association claimed in this year’s Burn Awareness proclamation.

The theme for 2020 National Burn Awareness Week is “Contact Burns – Hot Surfaces Damage Skin!”, and the ABA wants to make the public aware that a common risk of injury exists from touching hot surfaces including pavement, stove burners, irons, and hair irons, fireplace doors, embers from campfires, and other hot objects.

“This year National Burn Awareness week focuses on contact burns,” Jason Sparks, fire chief at Doyle Volunteer Fire Department, said. “Children under 5 are at a considerably higher risk for contact burns than other age groups. Children should be supervised at all times while around hot objects.”

Sparks also gave a warning about a source of burns that is often overlooked.

“It’s also a good idea to protect feet by wearing shoes on hot pavement or sand, and pets should be kept off hot pavement as well,” he said.

According to the ABA, the primary causes of burn injury include fire-flame, scalds, contact with hot objects, electrical and chemicals and they also claim that most of the injuries occur in the home.

“Don’t leave fire prevention to someone else,” Andy McCulley, North End Volunteer Fire Department’s chief, said, as he weighed in on the importance of being vigilant about preventing burns. “Take it in your own hands.”

Children under five are two times more likely to be seen for burn injuries at a hospital emergency department than the overall population. And, while 96.86 percent of those who suffer burn injuries will survive, many of those survivors will sustain serious scarring and life-long physical disabilities.

“Just be careful with kids,” Sparta Fire Chief Kirk Young warned. “They need to be supervised when cooking,or around any open flame.”

Tyler Brandes, chief at the Hickory Valley Volunteer Fire Department, warned about the hazards of outdoor fires and urged people to visit to register for burn permits.

“Burn permits are required until May 15th to burn outdoors,” Brandes said. “They are very easy to obtain, and it takes less than two minutes. Remain with an outdoor fire until it has been completely extinguished, and keep water and other tools needed to put the fire out on hand.”

Brandes offered advice on staying safe around open flames including campfires, brush burns, and bonfires and then offered a final warning.

“Please do not discard cigarettes along the roadways – these can easily spark grass fires,” he said. “Besides being a potential fire hazard, it is also an environmental issue with them taking up to 10 years to decompose.”

In consideration of this year’s theme for the week, Young offered a list of tips for avoiding or treating contact burns:

  • Cool a burn under cold running water for 10-15 minutes and call 9-1-1 for serious burns.
  • Always supervise children in the kitchen and dining areas
  • Create a “No Child Zone” while preparing and serving hot foods and beverages
  • Don’t carry or hold a child while cooking on the stove. Instead, place the child into a high chair or other safe area while cooking
  • Children love to reach, so to prevent hot food or liquid spills, simply use the back burner of your stove and turn pot handles away from its edge; also keep hot foods away from the edge of your counters
  • Keep clothing from coming in contact with flames or heating elements
  • A small adjustment to your water heater can give you one less thing to worry about. To prevent accidental scalding, set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Make a habit of placing matches, gasoline and lighters in a safe place out of children’s reach and avoid novelty lighters as they may look like toys in a child’s eyes
  • When filling the bathtub, turn on cold water first then mis in warmer water carefully

“And of course, check those fire detectors,” Young added as a final piece of advice.

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