February 6-12 is National Burns Awareness Week 2022 – Children under 5 are most at risk


STOW, MA – State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey today announced that National Burn Awareness Week begins Sunday, providing an opportunity to promote awareness of burn safety strategies, especially in fireplaces with children.

“Hot liquid burns have been the leading form of severe burns in Massachusetts since we tracked burn data, and young children are most often injured,” said state fire marshal Ostroskey. . “Children under the age of 5 suffered half of all scald injuries reported statewide in 2021.”

“A home fire is a devastating event,” said Margret Cooke, acting public health commissioner. “To prevent burns in the kitchen and throughout the home, it is important that families talk about fire safety with children and have access to safety equipment like smoke detectors throughout the home.

The theme for this year’s Burns Awareness Week is “Burning Problems in the Kitchen”. According to data from the Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System (M-BIRS), hot cooking liquids such as boiling water, grease and oil caused more burns than all other sources combined, and they represent the main cause of all burns. Last year, children under 5 suffered nearly five times as many such burns as the next age group.

Young children are also at a disproportionate risk of injury from hot food and drink. Although children under age 5 make up about 6% of Massachusetts’ population, they suffered 82% of burns from hot drinks and 53% of burns from hot foods in 2021.

Kitchen Burn Safety Tips
• Very young children love to explore their environment. They can be kept away from hot pots, pans and pans with a safety gate, high chair or playpen. Older children should be taught that the stove is a “no kiddie zone” and should be kept within three giant steps.
• Wear short or close-fitting sleeves when cooking. Loose sleeves can ignite if they come into contact with the burners. There have been five reported clothing ignitions during cooking in 2021.
• Keep hot food and drinks away from edges of counters and table tops. Using placemats instead of a tablecloth can reduce the risk of hot food and drink being washed overboard.
• Never hold or carry a child with a hot drink in your hand. A squirming baby can cause a spill that burns you or your precious cargo. If you’re on the go with hot coffee or tea, consider a travel mug if there are kids underfoot.
• Keep matches and lighters out of your child’s reach. Help children understand that matches and lighters are tools, not toys.
• Make sure your hot tap water is 120°F or less. At 150°F, third degree burns can occur in less than 2 seconds. To test your faucet, run your hot water for a minute then check the temperature with a kitchen thermometer; if it’s above 120°F, lower your water heater’s setting until the temperature is low enough. When replacing your water heater, consider installing a thermostatic mixing valve that will limit the outlet temperature to 120°F.

Treat burns and scalds
• Remove victims from danger and call 911.
• Run the burns under cold water. Do not put butter, grease or ointment on a burn.
• Rinse chemical burns continuously.
• Remove watches or jewelry from a burned area.
• If possible, remove clothing from a burned area. If the garment sticks to the skin, leave it in place and cut the rest of the fabric.
• Cover a burn with a clean sheet or towel.

Massachusetts law requires hospitals and health care providers to report any burns that span 5% or more of the victim’s body to the state fire marshal’s office. For 36 years, this data has been compiled by the Massachusetts Burn Injury Reporting System (M-BIRS), which was started as a tool to identify arsonists who injured themselves while starting fires. Today, M-BIRS is also used to help fire and health officials understand burn risks that can be mitigated through public education, regulation, or response strategies.


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