June is National Burns Awareness Month, and with the weather cooling down all over Australia, burns risks are increasing(1). Some 88% of minor burns occur at home(2), and in winter the culprits are usually related to hot drinks and foods, heaters, open fires, and other warming devices. Burns are the third highest cause of death in children under five, and preventable burns injuries cost the Australian community over $150 million per year.
It is vitally important to be aware of how to prevent and treat burns in the home should they occur. Below are some tips to avoid burns this winter:
Around the home
- Have easily accessible fire extinguisher/blanket in the home
- Install smoke alarms and maintain/replace batteries every winter
- Teach your children basic kitchen, bathroom, electrical and fire safety
- Block power points with safety plugs
- Keep candles away from materials and never leave them unattended
- Keep matches and lighters securely out of children’s reach
- Use fire guards to shield children from falling against heaters/fireplaces
- Use power boards instead of double adapters where possible
- Always sit at least 1 metre from a heater when warming up
- Air/dry clothing at least 1 metre from a heater
- Regularly cleaning lint filters for clothes dryers
- Never drink a hot cuppa while holding a baby or young child
In the kitchen
- Keep kettles, jugs, teapots, appliance cords and saucepan handles away from the edge of surfaces
- Install a barrier to keep out pets and Small children from the cooking area
- Keep hot drinks out of children’s reach
- Do not move pots of hot oil or water across the kitchen
- Purchase and use oven mitts when handling hot trays/pots etc
- Keep microwaves out of children’s reach but at adult chest height
In the bathroom
- Lower the delivery temperature of hot water to 50C via a licensed plumber
- Always supervise children in the bathroom
- Turn the cold tap on first and off last
- Check the bath water before placing a child in – if it is too hot for the inside of your wrist, it is too hot for a child
- Unplug and store hair dryers, straighteners and curlers securely
- Install grip bars and rubber mats in the shower/bath
Although we can attempt to prevent burns, they can still happen. From reducing pain to reducing future scarring, knowing how to treat a burn injury immediately and effectively when they occur can have a big impact on recovery outcomes for victims. While most burns injuries are preventable, they can still happen. Using the Remove-Cool-Cover approach is the best way to approach a burn injury.
- Remove all jewellery from around the burn area. Remove any clothing around the burn area unless it is stuck to the skin.
- Cool the burn under cool running water for 20 minutes. DO NOT use ice or creams as this can further damage the skin.
- Cover the burn loosely with cling wrap or a clean, damp lint-free cloth.
- Seek immediate medical advice if the burn is:
- larger than a 20 cent coin
- on the face, hands, groin or feet
- deep or infected
- caused by chemicals, electricity or if signs of inhalation injury (blackening around mouth or nostrils, swelling of airways) are evident
In an emergency call 000 or 112 if on a mobile if it is out of range or credit. For further medical information contact your local Burns Unit or hospital.
For more information on National Burns Awareness Month, and to download our Know Injury burns toolkit for your organisation, click here.
BRANZ Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand, Annual Report, ANNUAL REPORT, 1st July 2013 –30th June 2014
Burns Awareness research – commissioned by Mundipharma Pty Limited Conducted by Galkal, 22-29 May, 2015, national sample of 515 Australians aged 18 years and older (who had suffered a burn in last 6 months)