Burns: How to Treat and Prevent Burns at Home

How often do we hear that our neighbor’s child burned himself with a hot cup of coffee or he burned his hands when opening the hot water and other similar stories? These are very common accidents that happen to kids at home. As parents we should be aware of the causes of burns and the first aid treatment in case these accidents happened at our home.

What causes burns?
-    Hot liquids as coffee, soups and drinks
-    Kitchen stove, fireplace
-    Hot water from tap
-    Chemical burns from swallowing things like bleach
-    Electrical burns due to cords or sticking fingers in outlets
-    Exposure to sun

How many types of burns there are?
-    First degree burn: It is limited just to the top layer of the skin. It is usually painful, reddish with minor swelling. It can heal in 3 to 5 days.
-    Second degree burn: It involves all the skin layers. It is painful, reddish and produces blisters. It can take 3 weeks to heal.
-    Third degree burn: Severe situation where the burns reach the bones. There is no pain, just the feeling of numbness since nerves are damaged. The surface looks white and leathery. It necessitates surgical intervention with skin grafts.

How to treat burns at home?

Lots of grandmother’s potions are not recommended in treating burns at home. You can follow the below steps according to the burn degree:

» For first degree burns:
-    Remove the child from the heat source.
-    Wash the burned area under running water or apply clean wet cloth to it.
-    Do not use ice since it can destroy the cells.
-    Do not ever apply toothpaste, coffee beans, butter, powder or any other solution. The burn might get infected. You can keep in your first aid kit a cream specially made for burns. You can get it from any pharmacy.
-    Protect the burned area with gauze for a day.

» For second and third degree burns:
-    If the burned area covers more than 10% of your child’s body, call immediately the emergency unit.
-    Keep your child lying down and elevate the burned area to prevent swelling.
-    Remove him from the heat source.
-    Cover him with a towel.
-    If you can hold him, place the burned area under running water for 10mn, not his whole body since he can suffer from hypothermia.
-    Remove all clothes and jewels from around the burned area. Do not remove sticking clothes from the burned area. Leave them until medical help is present.
-    Do not remove or break any blisters.
-    In case of electrical burns, make sure that you removed the electricity before touching your child or you might get shocked.
-    In case of chemical burns, wash the area with running water for 20 min; cover the area with clean gauze.

Always call the emergency unit in case of burns from second and third degree. These burns necessitate medical and surgical treatment.

How to prevent burns?

Here are some tips:

-    Keep matches, lighters and candles out of your child’s reach.
-    Hide all electrical cords behind heavy furniture.
-    Cover all electrical outlets.
-    Change all electrical damaged cords.
-    Cover all heaters and radiators.
-    Do not hold your child on your lap while drinking coffee or any other hot liquid.
-    Educate your kids about hot water in tabs and how to open it always on cold water (Blue / Red dots on the tab).
-    Make sure not to leave your child unattended when giving him his bath. It takes only 5 seconds to get a first degree burn from a hot water tab. Always check the water temperature with your elbow before putting your child in it.
-    Don’t use fireworks at home.
-    Do not leave your child in the kitchen. Explain to your kids that the stove cover is hot and they shouldn’t touch it.
-    Don’t hold your child while cooking and make sure that your child is not near you when you are moving a hot pot.
-    Turn all pot handles while cooking to the inside.
-    Never warm baby bottles in the microwave.
-    Hide all cleaning material in a cupboard with a key.
-    Teach kids not to get near fireplaces and put anything inside it.
-    Always cover your baby’s car seat with a towel when leaving it in the car in a very sunny day.
-    Hide seatbelts before leaving your car parked in a hot day. Metal may become overheated and burns your child’s sensitive skin.
-    Always apply sunscreen to your child’s skin to prevent sunburns.
-    Install a fire extinguisher in your house especially in the kitchen or near a fireplace.