Hey guys, today we are going to talk about burns—one of the most devastating types of preventable injuries in kids.
Burn injuries not only cause immediate pain, but can lead to prolonged periods of rehabilitation, multiple surgeries including skin grafts, months of physical therapy and can lead to a lifetime of physical and mental trauma.
So, what are the different types of burns? Well, they are grouped into three major categories.
First-degree burns damage only the outer layer of skin, while second-degree burns damage the outer layer and the layer underneath. Finally, third-degree burns damage or destroy the deepest layer of skin and tissues underneath.
All burns can cause swelling, blistering, scarring and, in serious cases, shock and even death. They also can lead to infections because they damage your skin’s protective barrier from bacteria. Today we will address some of the major causes, and of course, some prevention strategies.
So what can you do to help prevent burn injuries? Be sure to put outlet covers on any electrical outlets that are within a child’s reach and throw out electrical cords that are frayed or damaged. If you use a space heater, then be sure there are no flammable objects near the heater itself, and be sure it’s turned off if you leave the house.
Teach children to never go near a space heater or even to try on turn one on/off. Make sure you store matches and lighters in a locked cabinet or where children can’t reach them and never leave candles unattended.
Before putting a child, especially infants and toddlers into a car seat, touch the seat to see how hot it is. Hot seat-belt straps or buckles can cause second-degree burns on small children, so cover the car seat with a towel when you park in the sun.
Don’t let children play near the stove or oven! Do not use a microwave oven to warm baby bottles. The liquid may heat up unevenly and scald your baby’s mouth!
Be sure to unplug hot irons, such as clothes irons or curling irons, and keep them up on a counter out of a child’s reach. Monitor kids near any open flames and never leave them alone near fires, in the bathtub, or near a hot stove.
And, what about hot water burns? First, be sure to set the temperature on your water heater to 120º F, or use the “low-medium” setting. This is most likely done if you live in a new home, but can be checked by looking at the dial on the heater itself. If it’s set high, then please consult a professional or someone with experience before you try and change it yourself and get shocked!
Any water that is set hotter than this can cause burns in 2 to 3 seconds! Test the water temperature yourself before your children get into the tub or shower and don’t let young children touch the faucet handles during a bath. Make sure you turn the handles of pots and pans toward the side of the stove, or even better, use the back burners of the stove. Use extra precaution when carrying hot liquids near kids, like coffee or tea and don’t allow kids to carry it for you.
Smoke detectors have been shown to reduce the incidence of death and injuries from fires significantly! Be sure to test your fire alarms twice a year and be sure that all sheets and curtains are made of flame retardant materials.
Lastly, have a family plan in case there is a fire in your house so that everyone can get out and meet in the same place! Use common sense and you can prevent a lot of injuries! Consult your physician and aap.org with any questions or concerns!
Robert L. Rux, M.D. is a Board Certified Pediatrician at Magnolia Springs Pediatrics. Originally from Mobile, he attended medical school at The University of Alabama School of Medicine (UAB) and completed residency at The Children’s Hospital of Alabama (UAB). He is married to Jaime and has three children, Adler, Walker and Mary McAtee.