Worried about burns and fire safety? This article will help you learn simple first aid techniques for burns as well as ways to keep your home and children safe from fire and other things that cause burns.
I’ll never forget the time my 1-year-old daughter grabbed hold of a curling iron I thought she couldn’t reach. Her small hand blistered and had to be bandaged for over a week as it healed. I felt guilty every time I saw her somber eyes look up at me as she said “I have an owie, Mommy.” Many burn injuries can be prevented with education and safety measures. If burns do happen, immediate first aid is necessary for quick healing. The following five tips will help you in dealing with burn prevention and first aid at home.
Making your home safe from fire hazards is the first step in preventing both fires and injuries from fire. Sparky.org offers a safety checklist your child can help you complete. If you children are too young to participate in safety measures, the Red Cross offers fact sheets and checklists you can use. Some of their useful ideas include installing and maintaining smoke alarms, having a fire escape plan and removing items from your home that are more likely to cause fires.
If you are shopping for a kitchen stove, try to find one with knobs well out of reach of little hands. Make sure electrical outlets function properly and that hot stoves (like wood-burning stoves) and fireplaces are not accessible by children. Keep matches and lighters up and away from children and never leave children unattended near a backyard fire pit, fireplaces, hot stoves and any other fire hazard, including hot water and liquids.
I remember being taught fire safety several times as a child in school. Now, when my children come home with information about fire safety, I am sure to follow up with them. We have a family night at least once a year where we review our own fire safety plan, practice exiting the house several ways, and discuss basic fire safety.
You can start teaching children at an early age to be safe around hot things. Very small children can learn the sign for “hot.” Parents can then use it as a warning when they come close to hot things. When children are more verbal, discuss with them the dangers of fire and playing with matches. Never allow your children to play with knobs on the stove, small heaters, appliances like curling irons or any other item that heats up.
Just like kids get scrapes and bruises, they will also get burns. Minor burns are best treated by running cool water over the burned area for several minutes. You can also use a cold compress, but do not put ice on the burn. Chemical cooling sprays also work to numb the pain, as will pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen. First degree burns should be covered with sterile gauze and lightly wrapped.
Second degree burns
These burns occur when the second layer of skin (dermis) is damaged. Blisters form and there is more intense pain and redness. In caring for second degree burns, follow the steps for treating minor burns. Also, don’t puncture the blister that will form over the burn. Allow the body to heal by keeping it intact, covered and clean. Watch for signs of infection (redness, swelling, oozing or sensation of heat) and seek medical attention if the burn does not begin to heal.
Third degree burns
These are the most severe burns. Second degree burns that are large fall into this category. Third degree burns may damage fat, tissue and bones, destroy all layers of the skin, and appear charred or dry and white as opposed to red. Seek medical help immediately for these burns. If you need to begin first aid on your own, do not wash third degree burns with water or remove burned clothing. Instead, cover burns lightly with a sterile cloth, make sure the victim is breathing, and elevate burned limbs if possible.
Serious burns can be life-threatening. Education and safety precautions won’t keep your family from every burn hazard, but they will help. Teach your family about burn prevention and first aid so you can be safe at home.
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.