State Fire Marshal Announces Burn Awareness Week: February 7-13

Below is a press release from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services:

STOW, MA — National Burn Awareness week is February 7-13, 2021.

State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said: “Burn Awareness Week is an opportunity for fire, health, and medical professionals to review some simple safety steps people can take to prevent burn injuries at home, at work, and outdoors.”

This year’s theme from the American Burn Association is Electrical Safety from Amps to Zap (A to Z)! While most electrical burn injuries occur in the work environment, in 2019 an 11-year old suffered an electrical burn.

Electrical fires are the second leading cause of fire deaths in Massachusetts. Using major appliances safely, charging phones and laptops on hard surfaces, switching to LED lightbulbs, installing outlet covers, and storing batteries safely are all easy steps we can take to prevent electrical fires and burns.

Tips to Prevent Electrical Fires and Burns

  • Plug major appliances like space heaters and air conditioners directly into wall outlets. Don’t use extension cords or power strips with them.
  • Charge laptops and cellphone on hard surfaces. Don’t charge them on soft surfaces like beds or upholstered furniture.
  • Unplug any device powered by lithium-ion batteries (like a hoverboard) once they are charged-up. Don’t overcharge or leave them charging unattended or overnight.
  • Turn heating pads, electric blankets and space heaters off before sleeping.
  • Learn how to react to a fire in the microwave oven: keep the door shut and unplug it if safe to do so.
  • As a general rule, don’t put metal in the microwave (check your owner’s manual for specific packaging that might be allowed, but don’t gamble if you are not sure.)
  • Keep battery terminals (positive and negative ends) from coming in contact with each other or with other metals. Tape the ends if you are storing them loosely in a drawer.

Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System (M-BIRS)

In 2020, 367 burn injuries were reported to the Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System (M-BIRS). Over one-third (35%) of the victims were under the age of 14 and almost one-quarter (24%) were under age 5. One in every five burns in 2020 was a scald burn to a child under five. The leading type of burn for all age groups is a scald burn caused by hot liquids such as hot drinks, cooking liquids, and tap water. The leading burn problem in the Commonwealth is hot liquid scalds to children under five. “Please remember that hot liquids burn like fire,” said Ostroskey.

Hot Drink Safety

  • Never hold or carry a child while you have a hot drink in your hand. Wiggling babies can cause a spill on themselves or on you.
  • Consider using a “travel mug” with a tight-fitting lid to prevent or minimize spills.
  • Keep hot drinks and soups away from the edge of tables and counters. Putting them in the center of the table keeps them away from curious fingers.
  • Use placemats instead of tablecloths and turn pot handles inward to prevent children from pulling hot liquids onto themselves.

About the Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System (M-BIRS)

The Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System is a joint program between the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Department of Fire Services. All burns affecting 5% or more of the body surface area must be reported by physicians and hospitals to the Department of Fire Services. In addition to being a tool for law enforcement to catch arsonists, it is a powerful injury prevention tool for health educators and policy makers.

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