Burn Awareness Week Safety Tips

Regional Medical Center at Memphis Offers Scald Prevention Tips During Burn Awareness Week

Burn injuries can occur in a matter of seconds, and one of the most common is scald burns. Scald injuries are painful, often require prolonged treatment, and can result in lifelong scarring or even death.  The good news is that scald injuries are preventable. Changes in behavior and the home environment can decrease risks and prevent scalds. A scald burn is a burn from hot liquid or steam. Young children and older adults are at the highest risk because they have thin skin, but anyone can be hurt by hot water.

“Many people don't realize that hot water in your home can be a danger. Hot water can burn just like fire,” explains Denise Headin, RN, Trauma/Burn Outreach and Injury Prevention at Regional Medical Center. “Most scald injuries occur in your own home, and the vast majority of these injuries are easily preventable.”

Scalds are one of the top three reasons for admission to the Firefighters Regional Burn Center, a full service burn center housed at Regional Medical Center. In conjunction with Burn Awareness Week, February 6 – 12, Regional Medical Center at Memphis offers the following tips to prevent scald burns in your home. 

  • Set home water heater thermostats to deliver water at a temperature no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  An easy method to test this is to allow hot water to run for three to five minutes, and then test with a candy, meat or water thermometer. Adjust the water heater and wait a day to let the temperature drop. Re-test and re-adjust as necessary.
  • Provide constant adult supervision of young children or anyone who may experience difficulty removing themselves from hot water on their own. Gather all necessary supplies before placing a child in the tub, and keep them within easy reach.
  • Before placing child in tub, fill to desired level. Run cold water first, and then add hot. Turn off the hot water first. This can prevent scalding in case someone should fall in while the tub is filling. Mix the water thoroughly and check the temperature by moving your elbow, wrist or hand with spread fingers through the water before allowing someone to get in.
  • Install some combination of grab bars, shower seats and non-slip mats inside and outside the tub and shower if they are used by anyone whose balance is unsteady.
  • Avoid flushing toilets, running water or using the dish- or clothes washer while anyone is showering.
  • Install anti-scald or tempering devices. These heat sensitive instruments stop or interrupt the flow of water when the temperature reaches a pre-determined level and prevent hot water that is too hot from coming out of the tap.

Cooking-related scalds are also easy to prevent. Some things you can do to make your home safer from cooking-related burns include:

  • Establish a “No-kid zone” out of the traffic path between the stove and sink where children can safely play and still be supervised. Keep young children in high chairs or contained spaces, a safe distance from counter- or stovetops, hot liquids, hot surfaces or other cooking hazards.
  • Cook on back burners when young children are present. Keep all pot handles turned back, away from the stove edge.
  • All appliance cords should be coiled and away from the counter edge.
  • During mealtime, place hot items in the center of the table, at least 10 inches from the table edge. Use non-slip placemats instead of tablecloths if toddlers are present.
  • Never drink or carry hot liquids while carrying or holding a child. Quick motions may cause spilling of the liquid onto the child.