This week is Burn Awareness Week, and this year’s theme is scalds. The N.C. Jaycee Burn Center offers the following tips and resources for avoiding and treating scalds.
10 tips to avoid scalds
- Install tempering valves on faucets to keep the water temperature constant and anti-scald valves in the showerhead to automatically turn off the flow if the cold water is turned off while the hot water is on.
- Supervise children and individuals with special needs in the bath or kitchen.
- Install grab bars on tubs and single faucet handles in tubs and bathroom sinks.
- Check your water heater, and if the temperature is higher than 120 degrees dial it back accordingly.
- Test the temperature of the water before getting in or placing a child or adult in a bath by running your hand, wrist or forearm quickly through the water.
- Establish a “kid-free” zone in the kitchen. An area at least three feet in front of the stove should be marked off with tape and the child instructed not to step inside that area. If that’s not possible, cook on back burners and keep pot handles turned so kids can’t pull them over.
- Never hold children while cooking, drinking a hot beverage or carrying hot foods.
- Open microwaved foods carefully, opening them away from you so steam releases safely. Always allow microwaved foods to cook before eating.
- Never heat a baby bottle in the microwave.
- Place hot liquids and foods in the center of the table where toddlers and young children can’t reach them.
How to treat a scald
Most scalds should be treated by a medical professional, with the exception of burns smaller than a quarter.
“Treat with cool water for three to five minutes and wrap in a clean dry-gauze dressing,” explains Ernest Grant, outreach coordinator at the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill. “Do not apply ice to the burn area, as this may also cause a frost-bite injury. Ointments, creams or solvents shouldn’t be applied, as they hold the heat in the tissue and make the injury deeper.”
And if a blister appears, don’t pop it. Instead, watch the area for signs of an infection over the next two or three days post-burn. Seek medical attention if there is any redness extending well beyond the border of the wound or if there is extreme pain.