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Burns Awareness

Little children have sensitive skin and often like to poke around and stick their hands anywhere they can. Unfortunately, this can often lead to them touching hot objects and cause burns – one of the most common forms of injuries for little children. Here’s a list of tips to prevent and treat burns.
The degree of a burn is classified by how deeply they injure the skin, often categorised as the following:
  • First degree burns are minor and heal quickly e.g. sunburns or red, swollen skin. They only affect the outer layer of the skin.
  • Second degree burns are more serious and require medical attention e.g. blistered and peeling skins. They involve the first and second layers of the skin, causing considerable pain.
  • Third degree burns are extremely severe and require immediate medical treatment. They involve all layers of the skin and you will most likely notice dry, charred, white/yellow or bright red tissue and may damage the nerves on the skin.
Common causes of burns include:
  • Scalds from hot water, steam, cups of tea and coffee being spilled, hot food etc.
  • Contact with fire or other hot objects e.g. the stove, fireplace, hair straightener, heater
  • Chemical burns from swallowing things such as batteries or spilling things such as bleach
  • Electrical burns from sticking fingers into sockets, or biting electric cords

The number of seconds it takes to get a deep burn in hot water:

  • 70°C – 1 second
  • 60°C – 10 seconds
  • 55°C – 30 seconds
Prevention is always better than treatment. Here are a few things to keep in mind to avoid your child getting burnt:
  • When using water taps, turn the cold tap on first and then hot.
  • Always test your child’s bath water before using and never leave them unattended.
  • Be careful of spillage when drinking hot drinks.
  • Don’t let your children near matches or lighters – explain that they aren’t toys for them to play with and are dangerous.
  • Keep children a safe distance from any fires, whether it be the fireplace or stovetop.
  • When cooking near heat, don’t hold your children and don’t let them climb up on counters near the stove, oven or pots of boiling water or other hot appliances.
  • To prevent spills, use the back burner when possible and turn the pot handles away from the counter’s edge so they can’t be knocked over.
  • Stir and test food when heating it up in a microwave before giving it to your child as food heats unevenly. Also, avoid heating up baby bottles in the microwave as the uneven heating can scald the baby’s mouth.
  • Unplug hair straighteners and curling irons after use.
  • Child-proof your house by putting socket covers on all electrical outlets.
  • Prevent house fires by making sure you have a working smoke alarm. Have fire extinguishers around the home, such as near the fireplace and in the kitchen.
  • If your child is old enough, teach them to stop, drop and roll in case of fire.
  • Avoid using large tablecloths as young children can often pull them, spilling hot food or drinks on them.
It’s important to know what to do in a situation where your child has gotten burnt. Here are some important tips:
  • Remove your child and keep tem away from the source of the burn
  • If a part of the child is on fire, it’s important to wrap them in a blanket or bedsheet, and try to roll them on the ground to extinguish the fire.
  • If the burn is caused from exposure to a chemical substance, flush the area with cool water for at least five minutes and don’t remove any clothing as other areas of the skin/body could get exposed and then infected this way. Continue to flush the area with water. Chemical burns to the eyes and mouth require immediate attention.
  • For burns caused by electricals, it’s important to firstly disconnect the power source and to remove the child using a non-metal object (wooden spoon, rope etc.), as using your hands may risk you getting a shock as well.
    To treat minor burns in children, follow this advice:
  • Remove clothes from the affected area.
  • Flush the area with cool water for several minutes, until your child is in less pain. You could also put a cool wet cloth over the burn.
  • Don’t apply ice, butter or powder to a burn injury as this aggravates the area.
  • After wetting the area, gently pat it dry and cover it loosely with a gauze or non-stick sterile bandage. You can also use cling film or a clean plastic bag.
  • You can give your child appropriate medication for pain (over-the-counter child-strength pain relievers) and apply aloe gel or cream to the affected area a few times a day.
  • Call or see a doctor if the burn seems severe.
    With more serious third-degree burns, it’s important to call a doctor or emergency medical care. In the mean time you can follow all the instructions above and also:
  • Keep your child lying down and the burnt area elevated.
  • Try and remove clothing from the affected area, but if it is stuck to the skin you may need to wait for medical assistance.
  • Do not break any blisters.
  • Apply cool water to the area for a few minutes and then keep a cool wet cloth over the area until you see the doctor.
    The healing process:
  • A good, high-protein diet (milk, meat, eggs, yogurt, and cheese) is important for healing burns.
  • You will need to change your child’s wound dressing every 4-7 days. Keep the dressings dry, and change them if they get wet or soiled.
  • Massaging the skin with lotion once the burn has been healed can be useful. A circular motion when rubbing the lotion helps the skin be more elastic and smooth.

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