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Scald Injuries

It has been two years since Lynda Fraser of the Canadian Burn Foundation visited Russell and our schools, however we continue to preach many of the lessons that we learned from her at the schools each year, just as we did this past week.  Typically when the topic of burns is discussed we often immediately think of the burn injuries caused by a fire. Burns injuries in a house fire can be some of the most horrific injuries a person can sustain, however they are certainly not the most common. Most burn injuries are the result of scalds and most of these injuries are happening to children. As a matter of fact 63% of all scald injuries happen to children under the age of two, the most common source of the scald – a cup of hot coffee. Over half of these scald injuries were the result of the child pulling on a tablecloth or reaching for the cup. Children’s skin is much thinner than adults, a spilled coffee on an adult may hurt for a short period but would likely not cause any permanent damage, this isn’t the case with a child. A spilled coffee on a young child can result in third degree burns which would require skin grafts and result in permanent scarring.  


It is common knowledge that when cooking we need to turn pot handles inward so that a child is not tempted to grab the handle, however how many of us have given pots to small children to play with? From a young child’s point of view; can we expect a toddler to comprehend that a pot on the stove is dangerous yet a pot from the cupboard isn’t? To a child that pot on the stove may simply be looked at as a potential toy, one that he or she may have been playing with earlier that same day. We strongly advise parents that this a practice that needs to be stopped.


Other than the kitchen the second most common place where scald injuries occur is in the bathroom. Each year many people; children especially, are burned with hot water from our own faucets. Most hot water tanks have been set to keep water at 60 degrees Celsius, a child can suffer a third degree burn in less than one second if exposed to water at that temperature. Many health units across Canada have recommended that hot water tanks have the setting lowered to 49 degrees Celsius to avoid these types of injuries. The best course of action when it comes to children is to always test the bath water prior to putting the child in the tub, secondly never leave them unattended as they could turn the hot water on themselves.


Scald injuries are serious, however they can easily be prevented with a little common sense and awareness.

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