Friday, 23 October 2015

Be Burn Aware this winter

As the weather gets colder and the nights draw in, there's nothing like taking a hot bath or enjoying a steaming mug of cocoa to warm you up in the evenings. However, what most of us probably haven't considered is that the things that keep us cosy also have the potential to do us considerable harm. 

On Wednesday 21st October, the British Burn Association ran National Burn Awareness Day for the second time to raise awareness of the shocking number of people hospitalised every day as a result of burns, the majority of which are preventable, and also to promote good first aid. On average, over 300 people are seen in emergency departments with a burn every day in England and Wales, with children accounting for 110 of these. What's more, a significant proportion of these injuries result from contact with hot liquid or steam, with 43% of all acute burn injuries result from scalding. However, there are several things we can do around the home to decrease the risk posed by scalding to ourselves and our loved ones:

  • Consider adding thermostatic mixing valves to high risk plumbing equipment such as baths and showers to mix the hot water temperature to below 48 degrees C.
  • Install special bath spouts and shower heads that prevent scalding by sensing if water gets too hot and shutting off the flow of water.
  • Always test bathwater before placing your child in the bathtub, and help them to get in. When running a bath, put cold water into the bath first and then add the hot water, using your elbows to test the temperature.
  • Never leave a child under 5 unattended in a bathtub, not even for a moment.
  • When cooking, try to use the rings at the back of the hob and turn saucepan handles towards the back or centre of the stove so that children can't grab them and tip the pots over.
  • Similarly, don't use a kettle with a cord which could dangle over the side of the work surface and be grabbed.
  •  Ideally keep toddlers and young children out of the kitchen altogether, for example, by putting a safety gate across the doorway.
  • Never warm baby bottles in the microwave - they may heat unevenly and burn your baby's mouth.
  • Use mugs or coffee cups with lids when you're around children and keep hot liquids like soup, coffee or tea away from the edge of counters and tables.
Accidents can happen despite our best laid plans, so in case of you or a member of your family being scalded, remember the "Cool, call, cover" procedure; 1) COOL the burn with running cool tap water for 20 minutes and remove all clothing and jewellery (if easily removable), 2) CALL 999, 111 or your local GP for expert medical help and 3) COVER burn with cling film or a sterile, non-fluffy dressing, making sure that the patient is kept warm.

Severe burns are for life, yet are often avoidable, so it really is worth making a few changes around the home to keep safe and avoid scalding this winter.

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