FIRE OFFICIALS: February 6-12 Is National Burn Awareness Week 2022

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

STOW, MA — State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey recently announced that National Burn Awareness Week begins Sunday, providing an opportunity to promote awareness of burn safety strategies – especially in homes with children.

“Scalds from hot liquids have been the leading form of serious burn injuries in Massachusetts for as long as we’ve been tracking burn data, and young children are injured most often,” State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said. “Kids under 5 suffered half of all reported scald injuries statewide in 2021.”

“A home fire is a devastating event,” said Acting Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke. “To prevent burn injuries in the kitchen and throughout the home, it’s important for families to talk about fire safety with children and have access to safety equipment like smoke alarms throughout the home.”

This year’s Burn Awareness Week theme is “Burning Issues in the Kitchen.” According to data from the Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System (M-BIRS), hot cooking liquids such as boiling water, grease, and oil caused more scald burns than all other sources combined, and they represent the leading cause of all burn injuries. Children under 5 last year suffered nearly five times more of these scalds than the next leading age group.

Young children are also at disproportionate risk of injury from hot food and drinks. Although children under 5 represent about 6% of Massachusetts’ population, they suffered 82% of hot beverage scalds and 53% of hot food scalds in 2021.

Kitchen Burn Safety Tips

  • Very young children love to explore their environment. They can be kept away from hot stoves, pots, and pans with a safety gate, highchair, or playpen. Older children should be taught that the stove is a “No Kid Zone” and to stay three giant steps away from it.
  • Wear short or close-fitting sleeves when cooking. Loose-fitting sleeves can catch fire if they come into contact with burners. There were five reported clothing ignitions while cooking in 2021.
  • Keep hot food and drinks away from the edges of counters and tabletops. Using placemats instead of a tablecloth can reduce the risk of hot food and drinks being pulled over the edge.
  • Never hold or carry a child while you have a hot drink in your hand. A wiggling baby can cause a spill that burns you or your precious cargo. If you’re on the move with hot coffee or tea, consider a travel mug if there are children underfoot.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach from your child. Help children understand that matches and lighters are tools, not toys.
  • Make sure the hot water from your tap is at 120°F or lower. At 150°F, third-degree burns can occur in less than 2 seconds. To test your tap, run your hot water for a minute and then check the temperature with a kitchen thermometer; if it’s above 120°F, lower the setting on your water heater until the temperature is low enough. When replacing your water heater, consider installing a thermostatic mixing valve that will limit the output temperature to 120°F.

Treating Burns and Scalds

  • Remove victims from danger and call 911.
  • Run burns under cool water. Do not put butter, grease, or ointment on a burn.
  • Flush chemical burns continuously.
  • Remove watches or jewelry from a burned area.
  • If possible, remove clothing from a burned area. If the clothing sticks to the skin, leave it in place and cut away the rest of the fabric.
  • Cover a burn with a clean sheet or towel.

Massachusetts law requires hospitals and health care providers to report any burn injury that extends over 5% or more of the victim’s body to the State Fire Marshal’s office. For 36 years, this data has been compiled through the Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System (M-BIRS), which was launched as a tool to identify arsonists who injured themselves while setting fires. Today, M-BIRS is also used to help fire and health officials understand burn hazards that can be mitigated through public education, regulation, or intervention strategies.

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