The smell of cookies baking in the oven or tasty sauces simmering on the stovetop is hard to resist for kids, but too many times, that temptation ends with burns and scalds that are preventable. During National Burn Awareness Week (February 2-8), Safe Kids of Southwest Florida and the North Fort Myers Fire District remind parents about a few simple tips to help avoid harmful burns and scalds.
National Burn Awareness Week is an annual observance the first full week in February led by the American Burn Association. According to the organization, over 450,000 people of all ages were treated for burn-related injuries in a medical setting between 2011 and 2015. In 2013, more than 126,000 of those were children seen in emergency rooms for fire and burn injuries. In 2016, there were 3,390 recorded deaths from fire and smoke inhalation injuries. These statics are not here to scare you. They are here to inform parents and caregivers that accidents do happen, and with the proper education, we can minimize these devastating numbers.
The American Burn Association, Safe Kids Southwest Florida and the North Fort Myers Fire District make great efforts to prevent these injuries and the expensive medical bills that go with them. As a community, we can accomplish these goals together.
“Among young children, scalds caused by hot liquids or steam are the most common types of burn-related injuries,” says Sally Kreuscher, Safe Kids Southwest Florida coordinator. “During National Burn Awareness Week, we want to remind all parents to take simple precautions such as adjusting your water heater and using the back burners on your kitchen stove whenever possible.”
The North Fort Myers Fire District recommends the following tips to prevent scalds:
1. Adjust your water heater. With everything going on, we know the water heater is the last thing on your mind. But a small adjustment can give you one less thing to worry about. To prevent accidental scalding, set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or the manufacturer’s recommended setting.
2. Don’t carry or hold a child while cooking. Instead, move a high chair in the kitchen within reach or sight before you start. Then talk to your children, so they know what’s going on. It’s a great way to spend time together.
3. Use the back burners. Kids love to reach, so to prevent hot food or liquid spills in the kitchen, simply use the back burner of your stove whenever possible and turn pot handles away from the stove edge. Keep hot foods away from the edge of your counters.
4. Place matches, gasoline and lighters in a safe place, out of children’s reach. Avoid novelty lighters or lighters that look like toys.
To learn more, visit the burns and scalds section on the Safe Kids Worldwide website, safekids.org.
Christi Kulwicki is a fire inspector for the North Fort Myers Fire Department.
Safe Kids is a nonprofit coalition of agencies and organizations dedicated to eliminating preventable childhood injuries. Visit safekidsswfl.org.