According to the American Burn Association, each year in the United States, more than 500,000 people require medical treatment for burns and roughly half of those are scald injuries, often occurring in the bath or kitchen area of the home.
"Children, the elderly and those with disabilities are at greatest risk for this type of injury and often require hospitalization, suffer complications and experience more difficult recoveries," said Patrice Bogan, Interim Director of the Oneida County Health Department. "these injuries are preventable and as we recognize February 3-9 as 'Scalding Burns Prevention Week' we offer the following tips:"
- Set the thermostat on home water heaters no higher than 120 degrees. A simple method of testing the water temperature is to let the hot water run for 3-5 minutes, then test with a meat or water thermometer. Adjust the water heater thermostat, if necessary, and then wait a day before re-testing.
- Provide constant adult supervision of young children or anyone who may experience difficulty removing themselves from hot water on their own. Gather all required bath supplies before placing a child in the tub and keep them within easy reach.
- Fill the tub to the desired level before getting in or placing a child in the tub. Run cold water first, then add hot. Turn hot water off first. This can prevent scalding should someone fall into the tub while it is filling. Mix bath water thoroughly and check the temperature by moving your elbow, wrist or hand with fingers spread through the water before someone gets in.
- Install grab bars, shower seats and non-slip flooring in tubs or showers for persons who are unsteady or weak.
- Avoid flushing toilets, running water or using the dishwasher or clothes washing machine while someone is showering.
Cooking related scalding injuries can also be prevented, according to Bogan:
- Establish a "kid zone" out of the traffic path between the stove and the sink where children can safely play and be supervised. Keep children in high chairs or play pens a safe distance from counter or stove tops, hot surfaces, hot liquids or other cooking surfaces.
- Cook on back burners when children are prevent and keep all pot handles turned back away from the stove edge. Appliance cords should be coiled away from the counter edge. During mealtime, keep all hot items in the center of the table and use non-slip place mats or tablecloths if toddlers are present.
- Never drink or carry hot liquids while carrying or holding a child. Quick motions may cause spilling of the liquid onto the child.
For more information on preventing scalding burns, you can visit the American Burn Association's web site.