How to avoid or treat burn wounds

By admin
29 May 2014

The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town recently revealed shocking statistics that 85 per cent of burn patients treated at the hospital are children younger than six. Here are some safety tips to try and avoid burn wounds and advice on how to treat it should tragedy strike.

Red Cross hospital has the only specialised burns unit in Africa and its statistics show 84 per cent of the burn wounds treated at the facility are the result of fluid burns. Red Cross hospital publicity coordinator Ronnis Daniels gave this helpful advice.

Burn safety tips

  • Keep matches, candles and lighters out of children’s reach. Matches present a real challenge to a child's natural inquisitiveness, with tragic results in many cases.
  • Never leave a child alone in a room with an open fire, burning candle or lamp. Such glowing objects are fascinating to a young child who might try to touch it. They might also end up starting a fire.
  • Always put hot food in the centre of the table. Hot liquids or food placed near the edge of a table could cause lifelong scarring.
  • Always put cold water into the bath first. Never leave small children unattended in a bathroom. They may turn on a hot water tap and not know how to turn it off. Ignore the telephone or doorbell.
  • Smokers, be careful. Never smoke in bed. Bedding can catch alight and start a fire which can claim the lives of your most precious possessions, your children.
  • Never overload power points. This can lead to a fire. Don’t run electrical wires under carpets.
  • Keep electrical cords short and out of reach of children. Never allow children to play with power points or electrical equipment. Repair faulty plugs and frayed cords immediately.
  • Keep spray cans away from any source of heat. Serious burns can be caused by the can exploding. Never throw empty cans into a fire.
  • Don’t handle hot drinks while holding a baby or small child.
  • Always turn saucepan handles towards the back of the stove. Teach children to stand well away – hot fat or oil causes severe burns.
  • Put baby a safe distance away when preparing hot meals. Never pass hot food over his or her head.
  • Never pour flammable liquids onto a fire, especially when children are around. They like to imitate adults and in this case it could have disastrous results.

Do this if your child sustains a burn wound

  • Move the child away from the heat source.
  • Remove any clothing from the burnt area. Don’t remove clothing that’s stuck to the skin.
  • Only use cold water on a burn.
  • Hold the burnt area in a container of cold water or keep it under cool running water for at least 15 minutes.
  • Don’t apply anything else to the burn wound.
  • Cover the burn wound with a clean, nonsticking cloth or plastic wrap.
  • Seek medical attention. Take the child to your nearest clinic, hospital or doctor for further treatment.

What NOT to do with a burn wound

  • Don’t put ice, butter/margarine or dishwashing liquid on a burn
  • Don’t break blisters

-Shandukani Mulaudzi

Sources: www.westerncape.gov.za, childrenshospitaltrust.org.za

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