Posted on September 11, 2017

Kitchen equipment, cooking, and hot food and drink, are thought to be responsible for more than half of all burns and scalds. Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is advising parents and caregivers to protect their young children from injury or permanent disability caused by burns and scalds by making some simple changes at home.

“Young children are at greater risk for burn injuries because their skin is thinner than adult skin. Statistics show that at least half of all burn accidents involving children can be prevented,” said Dr. Khalid Abdulnoor Saifeldeen, Chairman of the Kulluna for Health and Safety initiative. Dr. Saifeldeen is also the Director of HMC’s Hamad International Training Center (HICT).

According to him, the first step in helping to prevent children from being burned is to understand the common causes of burns, which include:

  • Liquid injuries (usually scalds) from steam, hot bath water, coffee (and other hot drinks), hot foods, and cooking liquids.
  • Contact with flames (from the cooker or BBQ) or hot objects (such as clothes irons, curling irons or hair straighteners).
  • Chemical burns from swallowing liquids and items such as drain cleaner or watch batteries, or spilling chemicals, such as bleach, onto the skin.
  • Electrical burns from biting on electrical cords or sticking fingers or objects into electrical outlets.
  • Overexposure to the sun.

“Hot drinks can scald a child some 15 minutes after they have been made. So to guard against this, parents should avoid drinking tea or coffee while holding a baby or young child. They should keep hot drinks out of reach of young children and never pass hot drinks over the heads of babies or children,” he emphasized.

He recommends getting into the practice of keeping children away from the kitchen while cooking, including keeping them away from the front of the oven as the door (especially glass doors) can get very hot. Dr. Saifeldeen also suggests using a kettle with a short cord and keeping it away from the edge of the kitchen countertop. “Other precautions parents can take include turning saucepan handles toward the back of the cooker, and using the back burners when possible. It is important to teach children over the age of seven how to safely use kitchen appliances such as toasters and microwaves.

As children get older, they can also be taught how to safely pour from the kettle and how to safely use the oven,” he advised. Moreover, to prevent electrical burns or shock, he suggested that children be made aware of electrical outlets, cords, and appliances. “In addition to their tiny fingers, children will find any number of household items to stick into the outlet. This innocent exploration can lead to first- or second-degree electrical burns, since a child’s skin is thinner and easily conducts electricity.  In some instances, the electrical shock can be fatal,” he described.

Dr. Saifeldeen also noted that hair straighteners and curling irons can be a hazard, often remaining very hot for several minutes after being unplugged. He advises the styling tools be stored out of reach of children immediately after use.

To treat a burn or scald, Dr. Saifeldeen recommends:

  • Immediately cool the area, soaking the burn under cool, not cold, water.
  • Loosely cover the burn or wound; cling film is ideal but should be applied loosely.

He recommends against the use of creams, ointments, grease, antiseptic spray or plasters. He also says any burn or scalds larger than a postage stamp should be seen by a doctor.

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