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Burns are common among young children.  Way too common.  In 2003, an estimated 83,000 children ages 14 and under were treated in emergency rooms for burns.  Most were thermal burns (52,200), followed by scald burns (21,000), with 6100 chemical burns and 1,400 electrical burns.

Children 4 and under are at the most risk for burns, with a burn injury death rate of more than double that of  children ages 5-14.  Worse yet, nearly all of these can be prevented through simple measures.

Treating a heat burn:

  • Remove the child from the heat source.
  • Cool the area with cold water or cold compresses until pain is reduced or alleviated.
  • If the burn is serious, DO NOT apply ice or an ice pack, as this could send the victim into shock.
  • Do not attempt to remove clothing or any other items that may be stuck to the burn area. If necessary, cut the clothing from around the burn.
  • Do not try to break any blisters that have formed. Leave the burn area alone.

Treating an electrical burn

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Unplug the device that has caused the electrical burn. If necessary, cut off the main power supply to the outlet.
  • Check the child for breathing and pulse.
  • Perform CPR if necessary.
  • Don’t give the child anything to eat or drink.
  • Lay the child on his or her back unless another injury is suspected. In that case, do not move the child.
  • Keep the child’s normal body temperature. Provide blankets if they are cold.
  • Elevate your child’s feet and legs.

Burn Prevention:

Simple burn prevention steps could prevent nearly every childhood burn from occurring in the first place:

  • Keep all hot liquids safely out of the reach of children. Scald burns are the most common among younger children, because their curiosity has them reaching for things higher than them (such as something on the stove or counter).  They can easily pull off that cup of hot coffee, that pan on the stove, or another hot liquid right onto themselves.
  • Turn pot handles inward when cooking, and use the back burners of the stove whenever possible.
  • Drink all hot liquids in a spill proof container.
  • Lower the setting of your water heater to below 120 degrees to avoid scald burns.
  • Keep children out of the room when cooking, as grown-ups can be prone to accidents as well.
  • Encourage use of hats during outdoor activities.
  • Monitor children around all fire pits and fireplaces.
  • Apply sunscreen to children frequently during outdoor activities. A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 is suggested for maximum protection.

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