Burns are one of the most preventable injuries around, yet they are the 5th leading cause of accidental death in the United States, claiming nearly 3,500 lives each year. In the past three decades, great strides have been made in reducing burn injuries. This is due to a number of factors, including better education surrounding burn prevention and fire safety. Young children are especially susceptible to burns, so it is extremely important to let them know the dangers surrounding burns and fire. The leading cause of burns in children is scalding.
It is important to supervise your children, especially in the kitchen and bathroom where the majority of these scaldings happen. Hot water heaters are now manufactured to run at lower temperatures than in the past, which has helped reduce the number of scaldings each year. In addition, the federal government now regulates the flammability of children’s toys further reducing incidents of burns. A more widespread use of smoke alarms is another factor in the lowering of burn injuries each year. The alarms give people a chance to prevent and escape fires and smoke. Other factors that have helped reduce the number of burn related injuries in the past 30 years include, better safety precautions in the workplace, a decrease in the number of people smoking cigarettes, and a reduction in the use of open fires for home heating. While we are pushing forward in burn prevention there is still much work to be done in preventing these devastating injuries. This article will look at the impacts burns have on people and some tips for how to keep you and your family safe.
Ask anyone who has suffered from a serious burn, and they will tell you, it’s one of the most painful things they’ve ever experienced. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people are treated for burns in the United States. While the majority of medically treated burns are nonfatal, there are still several thousand deaths each year from burns and smoke inhalation. Burn survivors face both physical and emotional pain during their recovery. Burns are broken down into three categories; first degree burns, second degree burns, and third degree burns. In this rating system first degree burns are the most mild and usually heal quickly, while third degree burns are the most severe and almost always require medical attention.
No two people heal from their burns the same way. Physical symptoms such as chronic and neuropathic pain can develop while recovering from burns. These forms of pain can last for months and even years after the worst of the wounds are healed. Emotional pain caused by burns can take just as long to heal. Research suggests that immediately after their injury about 90% of survivors show some symptom of stress disorder and around 30% of burn victims develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Ptsd). Symptoms from PTSD can include nightmares, flashbacks to the event, anxiety and depression. Often these symptoms will show up months after the initial burn and can be lessened by various forms of therapy.
One of the best things to do if you or someone you love is suffering from a burn is to find support. Organizations such as the Phoenix Society can help burn survivors and their families navigate the complex issues surrounding burn recovery. Support is important in helping burn survivors deal with the both the emotional and physical pain associated with their recovery. Having people to talk to who understand what they are going through can greatly benefit those recovering from burns. In addition, the families of those dealing with burns can also benefit from talking to other people who have gone through what they are going through. Talking to others may help families better understand how to care for and support their loved one and help lessen their own stress and anxiety surrounding the situation. The Phoenix Society not only offers a support network for burn survivors, but also offers a number of online resources about burn prevention.
The American Burn Association estimates that 73% of burns happen at home. It is important to feel comfortable and safe at home. Many of us spend more time at home than anywhere else. Therefore, in order to keep ourselves, our family, and our friends safe from burns, we must ensure our homes have appropriate burn prevention measures in place.
The majority of burn injuries are caused by fire or scalding. These types of burns can be greatly reduced if you have a properly working smoke alarms to alert you of fire or smoke. It is important to make sure that your smoke alarms are functioning properly and that they have fresh batteries. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends putting at least one smoke alarm on each floor of your house. They go on to further recommend putting smoke alarms in and outside of bedrooms, as closed doors often stop the spread of smoke and could keep an alarm from going off. The NFPA also recommends changing the smoke alarms in your home every 10 years.
Another common cause of fires at home are malfunctioning appliances such as water heaters, space heaters, and drying machines. With water heaters one of the main concerns comes from the potential of the pilot light igniting the vapors from flammable liquids. For example, a can of paint thinner is spilled in the basement close to the water heater, the vapors coming off of this spill are flammable, they reach the pilot light on the water heater and suddenly there is a flash of fire and anyone standing near can be severely burned. To prevent this kind of accident, it is important to keep all flammable liquids away from your water heater. In addition, your water heater should always be elevated, especially if it is in the garage. If your water heater is in your garage and not elevated, there is a good chance that it is in violation of building codes.
Space heaters are another common appliance that may cause fires. If you are using a space heater make sure it is away from your bed and walls. Make sure that you don’t leave it on while you aren’t home and make sure nothing is leaning against it.
Drying machines also present a fire hazard and therefore also a burn hazard. Always use a lint filter when using a drying machine and make sure that the lint from the filter is cleaned out before each use. It is also important to make sure that the back of the dryer is properly attached to the wall, as this is another common cause of fire.
Kitchens are the source of many home fires. Never leave your stove or oven unattended while you are cooking. If you have to leave make sure you get someone to watch the stove for you. Grease fires are very common in the kitchen. If you are heating oil, never cover it. When you remove the lid there is a chance the oil may catch fire. In the case that a grease fire does breakout never pour water on it. This will not put the flame out and can act to splatter and spread the flame. Smothering the flame with flour or baking soda is your best bet.
When baking be especially aware of what you are doing and never forget about what you have in the oven. It is also important to regularly clean your oven in order to prevent grease buildups that can catch on fire.
Barbecues are another serious fire hazard. Make sure that your barbecue is away from the house and trees. If you are using a propane grill, be sure that you have a properly functioning propane tank. Again it is important to regularly clean your barbecue to prevent buildup of flammable grease.
More house fires breakout in the bedroom than any other room in the house. Cigarette butts that are not properly put out can stay lit long after they are discarded. If these embers come into contact with any flammable material such as fabric or paper they may cause a fire. While cigarette companies have recently begun putting flame retardants in some cigarettes, an overflowing ashtray is still a risk. It is good practice to keep smoking outside and to properly dispose of cigarette butts in a way that ensures they are out.
Children are particularly susceptible to burns. The most common burns suffered by children are scalding burns either from hot water taps being too hot, or from tipping over scalding liquids in the kitchen. Another common cause of burns in children is burns caused by coming into contact with hot objects, such as pans that have been sitting on the stove. Careful child supervision can help prevent burns. It is especially important not to leave children unsupervised in the bathroom and kitchen. Another important preventive measure is to keep matches and lighters away from children and to educate them on dangers associated with these objects. Fireworks should also be kept away from children. Teaching children to stop, drop, and roll can help limit the risk of burns. Making sure your child knows their address and how to dial 911 can help make a difference in preventing burn injuries.