Children are prone to burn injuries due to their curious nature and the lack of awareness. A burn is an injury to skin or tissue caused by heat. Burn injuries can be caused by hot liquids (scalds), hot solids (contact burns), or flames (flame burns). Injuries from chemicals, electricity, or friction can also be regarded as burns.
According to WHO, burns were the 11th leading cause of death of children aged 1 to 9 and were also the fifth most common cause of non-fatal childhood injuries. In Malaysia, statistics have shown that a child dies every two weeks from fire and burn injuries. The recent death from fire involved a 4 years old child from Mersing barely a week ago!
Here are some burn prevention strategies that are worthwhile knowing.
How to prevent burns in children
1. Eliminating hazards in the kitchen ✅ Do not let cooking appliance electric cords hang off a counter ✅ Avoid leaving unattended pots on a stove ✅ Do not leave hot beverages near the edge of a table
2. Ensuring a safe bathing environment
✅ Test bath and shower water with your hand for 30 seconds ✅ Adjust water heater temperature to a maximum of 48.9 degree Celsius (120 F)
3. Reducing the odds of a burn
✅ Avoid smoking indoors ✅ Do not have a child sit in your lap while you drink a hot beverage ✅ Keep flammable liquids, matches and lighters away from children ✅ Avoid the use of fireworks ✅ Unplug irons and similar devices when not in use ✅ Cover unused electrical outlets with safety caps
4. Be prepared for a fire
✅ Practice home fire drills at home ✅ Teach children to “stop, drop, and roll” if their clothing is on fire ✅ Every household should have a functioning fire extinguisher
Parents play an important role in preventing fire and burn injuries. Let us keep our children safe from burns. Stay tuned as the next discussion would be regarding the first aid management for burns.
References: 1. Burn care for children AAP guidelines 2. Children and burns – www.who.int
Dr. JoAnn Rajah is a child specialist that provides pediatric care to baby and children in Selangor and KL. Her core strength lies in diagnosing early signs of child health issues and guiding parents on how to manage them.