Small steps can prevent burnsThe Shriner’s Hospital for Children launched a campaign to educate parents on preparedness in the event of fire.

The program was part of a week-long education plan for Burn Awareness Week, which ends today.

From the bathtub faucet to the barbecue grill, it isn’t hard at all to find potential sources of burn injuries. It’s just as important to be ready for these emergencies as for the larger, global problems that may occur.

Lynne McAllister, chair of the Cherokee County SafeKids Coalition, says there are some things that can be done to protect children from getting burned.

“It all depends on the age of the child,” said McAllister. “If you have a toddler, you can put up a gate to keep children out of the kitchen area, which keeps them away from the stove.”

The U.S. Fire Administration reports that in a typical year, fire kills more Americans than all natural disasters combined. On average, 4,000 people in the United States lose their lives because of fire each year, and more than 2 million people are injured.

“Keep matches, lighters, chemicals and lit candles out of children’s reach,” said McAllister.

According to KidsHealth, there are several general things for parents to do to make sure their kids don’t get burned, including:

• Putting child-safety covers on all electrical outlets.

• Get rid of equipment and appliances with old or frayed cords and extension cords that look damaged.

• Make sure older children are careful when using irons or curling irons.

• Don’t smoke inside, especially in bed. (Or as Cherokee County Community Health Coalition Coordinator Carol McKiel would say, quit smoking all together.)

According to Dr. Barbara P. Homeier of KidsHealth, parents should check bathwater with their elbow to make sure it is not too hot before putting children in it. It also suggests turning on the cold water first and turning it off last when running water in the bathtub or sink.

“In the kitchen, you can turn pot handles to the back of the stove when you cook,” said McAllister. “If a child is in there, it will prevent them from grabbing a hot pan and getting burned.”

Parents should also avoid letting small children in walkers peddle around the kitchen since they could easily run into something and knock something hot onto themselves. Parents should never hold a small child while cooking either.

“Never warm baby bottles in the microwave over,” said Homeier. “The liquid may heat unevenly, resulting in pockets of breast milk or formula that can scald your baby’s mouth.”

There are three different classifications of burns, first-degree, second-degree and third-degree.

First-degree burns are those in which only the outer layer of skin is burned. The skin is usually red, with swelling and pain sometimes present.

Second-degree burns are those in which the first layer of skin has been burned through and second layer of skin is also burned. Blisters develop and the skin takes on an intensely reddened, splotchy appearance with severe pain and swelling.

Third-degree are the most serious burns. They are painless and involved all layers of the skin. Fat, muscle and even bone may be affected. Areas may be charred black or appear dry and white. Difficulty inhaling and exhaling, carbon monoxide poisoning or other toxic effects may occur if smoke inhalation accompanies the burn.

For treatment of minor burns - those no larger than two to three inches in diameter - run cool water over the affected area for at least five minutes or until the pain subsides. Don’t use ice, which can cause frostbite on the skin and cause further damage.

If blisters form, don’t break them or they may become infected.

Third-degree burns must be treated by physician and 911 should be called immediately. Don’t remove burnt clothing or immerse severe large burns in cold water, which could cause shock.

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