|SPRINGFIELD During the holiday season, more people are baking and cooking special treats. Safe Kids of Western Massachusetts led by Baystate Children's Hospital reminds parents and caregivers to check the kitchen for preventable hazards and to supervise children at all times in the kitchen.|
According to a study released by the American Academy of Pediatrics, thousands of children under five went to the ER for treatment of burns and 80 percent of those burns occurred in the kitchen, typically from kids pulling hot water or hot liquids onto themselves.
"It's important to keep cabinets closed and locked, and to store hazardous substances out of reach, but that's not enough," said Mandi Summers, co-coordinator, Safe Kids of Western Massachusetts led by Baystate Children's Hospital. "The most important safety precaution in the kitchen is constant, close, attentive supervision."
Simply being in the same room as a child is not necessarily supervising. An actively supervised child is in sight and in reach at all times.
"Burns from spills, steam, hot surfaces and flame can be especially devastating injuries," said Summers. "Because young children have thinner skin than adults, they burn more severely and at lower temperatures."
Scald burns from hot liquid or steam are the most common type of burns among children ages four and under. A child will suffer a full-thickness burn (third-degree burn) after just three seconds of exposure to 140-degree water, and will need surgery and skin grafts.
According to Dr. Lisa Patterson, director, Trauma Service, Baystate Medical Center, first degree burns are similar to a sunburn where the skin is red, painful but there are no blisters. Second degree burns are painful and result in a blistering of the skin, and third degree burns are full thickness skin loss, and may not be painful because nerve endings are destroyed. Second and third degree burns should be cared for by a health professional. Proper wound care is important to prevent infection, as the skin is a barrier to bacteria. Once the skin is burnt, there is an increased risk of infection.
If your child has a burn, Dr. Patterson recommends:
- Removing clothing from the burned area as long as it has not stuck to the skin.
- Soak or run cool, not icy cold, water over the burn until the pain lessens.
- Do not put ice, any ointments or butter on the burn, and do not break any blisters.
- Lightly apply a sterile dressing over the area, then call your pediatrician for further instructions based on the severity of the burn.
And, always "think prevention," said Dr. Patterson.
Safe Kids recommends these precautions against kitchen burns:
- Never leave a hot stove unattended. Unattended food on the stove is the number one cause of home fires.
- Never hold a child while cooking or carrying hot items.
- Cook on back burners whenever possible, and turn all handles toward the back of the stove.
- Don't allow loose-fitting clothing in the kitchen.
- Keep hot foods and liquids away from the edges of counters and tables. Be especially careful around tablecloths children can pull hot dishes down onto themselves.
Children who can follow directions may be ready to help out in the kitchen with tasks that do not involve knives, appliances or heat. "You know your own children. Don't give them knives or let them handle anything hot until they have shown the maturity and coordination to do it safely," said Summers. "Some children mature faster than others, so it's up to parents to use good judgment about each child's capabilities."
For more information about kitchen safety and burn prevention, call Safe Kids at 794-5434 or visit www.safekids.org.
Safe Kids works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children 14 and under. Safe Kids of Western Massachusetts led by Baystate Children's Hospital is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injury.
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