Burn Awareness Week, observed the first full week in February, is a window of opportunity for organizations to mobilize burn, fire and life safety educators to unite in sharing a common burn awareness and prevention message in our communities.
The theme for this year’s awareness week is “Contact Burns – Hot Surfaces Damage Skin!”
The American Burn Association (ABA) annually develops educational resources to assist in this task and has placed them on their website, under the Prevention tab.
A contact burn is a burn caused by touching a hot object. Roughly 70,000 people went to the hospital emergency department because of contact burns in 2018 (National Electronic Injury Surveillance System- NEISS).
About one-third of the patients were children under the age of five (5).
The ABA provides a number of ways you can observe NBAW including:
- Secure a local/state proclamation;
- Create social media posts;
- Conduct a press conference;
- Conduct a special event;
- Recognize a special survivor; and
- Get creative—host a reunion or celebrate members of the burn care team.
A burn can be painful or painless, according to the degree. The degree of a burn is determined by its location on the body and the number of skin layers affected.
Heat, electricity, chemicals, or radiation can cause a burn. The first response in a burn situation is to stop the heat source or break contact between the heat source and the skin.
The body holds in the heat and continues to burn until the skin cools. In many cases, you can cool the burn with water.
Unless told to by a medical professional, never use butter or ointments; they seal in heat and may cause infection. If blisters form, they should not be broken because they protect the burn from infection.
The severity of a burn may not be obvious for up to 24 hours and infection may occur if improperly treated.
Avoid a contact burn in the following ways:
- Supervise children around hot objects at all times.
- Stand at least 3 feet away from hot outdoor objects. Keep area clear of trip hazards. Limit alcohol consumption.
- Protect your feet from hot objects by wearing shoes when walking on hot pavement or sand. Keep pets off hot pavement too.
- Turn heating pads and blankets off before sleep.
- Have hot pads available whenever cooking. Long oven mitts are best when needing to reach in or over hot surfaces, such in an oven or over a grill. Assume all pots and pans are hot.
- Remember to treat items coming from the microwave as you would items from the oven. Limit microwave use by children.
- Unplug tools such as these when not in use, and always treat as if they are still hot. Keep out of reach of children.
Before an accident happens, know the location of the first aid kit, the nearest telephone, and medical facility.
Burns can be painful and cause irreparable damage in seconds. You must be able to respond appropriately and get medical help as quickly as possible.