Fire Burn Awareness Week this year is from February 1 to 7 and is a perfect time to think about fire safety and make changes in your home.
Burns are among the most painful and devastating injuries a person can sustain. In the United States, fire burn injuries are the sixth leading cause of unintentional injury death. In 2006, 175 people in New York State died due to this type of injury. Another 21,629 more were either hospitalized or treated in an emergency room. The good news is that most burns are preventable.
“When most people think about injuries from burns, they think of house fires or incidents involving fireworks,” said Diane Ward, RN, of Herkimer County Public Health.
“We know we should keep children away from matches and no one should play with fireworks. But there are many more measures that can be taken to protect yourself and loved ones from burns,” she said.
Everyone should install and maintain smoke alarms on every floor of their home, including the basement, and especially near sleeping areas. Also, develop a family fire escape plan and practice it every six months. Remind every family member that is caught in a smoky room, that they should get as close to the floor as possible.
The New York State Department of Health advises you to test your smoke alarms every month, replace batteries annually; and clean the alarms using vacuum or hair dryer. They also advise keeping a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, since most house fires start in this room. Know your exits and practice escape plans through each of them.
According to the state health department, most burn injuries in the home occur in the kitchen. Use caution while using appliances and never leave food unattended on a stove, in the oven or in a microwave. Also, when young children are present, cook on a back burner and keep all pot handles turned back, away from the stove’s edge.
“A smart way to keep children safe in the kitchen is to create an area out of the traffic path where children can play while being supervised,” Ward suggested.
Install anti-scald devices on your faucets and set your water heater temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are many common sense ways to keep children safe. Be cautious when using the following items and keep them away from young children: potpourri pots, scented candles, hot steam vaporizers (let the water cool before emptying them), home radiators (hire a professional to repair your radiator and do not remove or release the pressure valves), and household cleansers or other chemicals (keep in a locked cabinet). Use child-resistant cigarette lighters.
For more information about preventing burns, call the health department at 315-867-1176 or visit their website at www.nyhealth.gov.