Help for Hot Holidays
October hits and there’s a longing for cooler nights and cozy blankets by the fireplace, hot cocoa and cinnamon-infused candles. But while the nights get cooler, families should be aware of the heat we can never escape – fire. It has been one year since The Grossman Burn Center at St. Luke’s Medical Center opened its doors to the Phoenix community and as the colder months are upon us, doctors are once again preparing for the unfortunate accidents involving candles, hot stovetops and fire pits.
October is also home to Fire Prevention Week, which is observed Oct. 7-13. For eight decades, the International Fire Marshals Association (IFMA) has paid tribute to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, by educating the public about appropriate fire prevention. Even in the holiday hustle, indoor burn accidents are closer than you think. According to the National Fire Protection Association, decorations are the first thing to ignite in more than 1,000 homes per year.
Peter Grossman, M.D., FACS, medical director of The Grossman Burn Center, offers helpful reminders and tips on how to prevent and treat burns:
- Go back to the basics.It’s as simple as education. Make sure your children know to stay away from open flames, and how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire.
- Stay cautious in the kitchen. Supervise young children in the kitchen at all times. Cook on back burners and keep pot handles turned away from the stove edge, and during mealtime, place hot items in the center of the table. Also, consider using mugs with tight-fitting lids, like those used for travel, for hot coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
- Never leave kids unsupervised. Open flames are common around Halloween and Thanksgiving, yet burn prevention is easy with a little observance. Use battery-operated candles as an alternative in decorations, and keep highly flammable decorations, such as dried flowers, cornstalks, and crepe paper, away from open flames and heat sources.
- Determine the severity of burn.There are three degrees of burns, each classified by how deep the burn is on your skin. Determining the degree of the burn will help you understand the proper way to treat the injury and seek further health care.
- Say no to fluff. Cover the burn with a clean dry cloth or gauze to protect the area and leave blisters intact. Avoid fluffy cotton or other materials that may leave traces in the wound.
- Don’t believe the hype. Butter, grease and oil retain heat. Not only is this difficult to clean, but it prevents the wound from healing properly and causes major pain to the burn victim.
- No ice, ever. Putting ice directly on a burn can cause a person’s body to become too cold and cause further damage to the wound. Immersing the wound under cold water for an extended amount of time could also cause a drop in body temperature, blood pressure and circulation, which could lead to hyperthermia and shock. Instead, run the burn under cool water.
Although nearly one-third of burn center patients are children—and more specifically, 80 percent toddlers, Dr. Grossman explains that burns can happen to anyone.
Peter H. Grossman M.D., FACS, is a board-certified plastic surgeon and medical director of The Grossman Burn Center at St. Luke’s Medical Center, specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery and the care of the burn-injured patient.
This information is provided by St. Luke’s Medical Center as general information only and is not intended to replace the advice of a physician.