State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey announced that national Burn Awareness Week is February 5-11, 2017. “While we traditionally associate burns with fires, the leading burn problem in Massachusetts is hot liquid scalds to children under 5,” said State Fire Marshal Ostroskey, “Remember that hot liquids burn like fire.”
Children under 5 Most at Risk of Burns; Scalds Leading Cause
According to the Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System (M-BIRS), children under five account for more than one-quarter of all burn injuries. Scalds from hot beverages like coffee and tea, hot water in the tub, and spilled cooking liquids caused 88% of the burns to children under five in 2015.
Tips to Prevent Scald Burns
State Fire Marshal Ostroskey offers these tips to prevent burns from hot liquids:
Set Water Heaters to 125° F or Less
In Massachusetts, the State Sanitary Code requires hot water heaters be set to temperatures between 110° and 130° Fahrenheit. The code also requires mixing valves that also help prevent scalds to ensure bath water does not exceed 112° F at the faucet and water from other household faucets does not exceed 130°.
Scalds Cause 19% of Burns to Older Adults
Older adults also frequently suffer scald burns from hot liquids and steam. As we age our skin becomes thinner, and serious burns occur more quickly.
Burn First Aid: Cool Water
“Treat a burn with cool water; don’t use grease, butter, ointments, lotions or fats, because they can make the burn worse. Be sure to call 9-1-1 for medical help for all but the most minor burns,” Ostroskey said. He also offered these treatment tips for burns:
Stop, Drop and Roll
“If flames ignite clothing, it is important to remember to Stop, Drop, Cover and Roll,” said Ostroskey. Children should be taught to stop, drop and roll if their clothing is on fire. Older children, adults and seniors must be aware that they can put out clothing fires even in a tight space, by rocking back and forth until the flames are out, or using a blanket or coat to smother the flames.
Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System (M-BIRS)
The Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System (M-BIRS) collects reports of all burns of five percent or more of the body surface area from doctors and medical treatment facilities in Massachusetts. M-BIRS is a joint program of the state Department of Fire Services and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH). The “Burn Registry” provides valuable data on the nature of the burn problem in the Commonwealth. It is also a tool to help fire service and law enforcement personnel identify arsonists that may have been burned while setting fires.