Safety Begins at Home

Shriners Hospitals for Children-Northern California wants to remind children and families that prevention is the best medicine.

child safety

 

“Our burn team is devoted to helping children with devastating burn injuries survive and thrive, and we are equally devoted to teaching parents, children and the community how to prevent injuries,” said David Greenhalgh, M.D., chief of burns at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California. “We are constantly examining new ways to educate the community about fire danger and provide information on how to prevent injuries. When it comes to burn injuries, prevention is the best medicine.”

As part of its Be Burn Aware campaign, Shriners Hospitals for Children has put safety tips and burn prevention information at your fingertips. You may access and download prevention information online here.

 

Here are some tips to help keep your family safe at home.

Circle of Safety

You surely have heard it said before – prevention is the best medicine.  The burn team at our Northern California Shriners Hospital puts these words into practice each day through their devotion to prevention education and research.   As the summer camping season enters full swing, it is our pleasure to introduce you to Dr. Tina Palmieri, our assistant chief of burns and author of the Circle of Safety prevention campaign.  The campaign promotes campfire safety by instructing families to draw a circle of safety around their campfire.

Summer Safety -campfire

How did you come up with the idea for the Circle of Safety?The original idea came from one of our database entry analysts. She noticed that virtually all the children treated for injuries sustained when they fell into a campfire were under the age of 3.  As our prevention team discussed the problem, it occurred to us that if a child were kept a distance from the fire matching their height, even if the child fell he/she would not get burned.  Since people often sit in a circle around a campfire, we created the idea of the circle of safety.

How large is the circle of safety? Since most of the young children treated were under 4-feet tall, we recommended that the circle of safety be a 4-foot perimeter around the campfire.

Why do you think it is so effective? First and foremost, it is simple. Second, it solves the problem. The radius of the circle is larger than the height of the average child who falls into a fire.

Do you see more accidental burn injuries during the summer months? Absolutely! Families are on vacation, children are playing outside, and more people go camping.

How did you become involved in prevention research and education? I have always been interested in achieving the best outcome for my patients. Even the best treatment of a third degree burn results in some scarring. The best outcome would be to never get burned in the first place, hence my interest in preventing the very injury that I treat.

What are some of the other burn prevention studies you have done over the years? Our team has looked at fires and injury as depicted in Saturday morning television commercials, soup scald burns from microwaving prepackaged soup, hot water scald injuries occurring in the kitchen, and e-cigarette burns to name a few.

Shriners_Circle_of_Safety_flyer

Electrical Safety

In your home, especially if young children are present:

  • Place covers on all electrical outlets.
  • Unplug all electrical items within a child’s reach.
  • Do not allow toys that must be plugged into an outlet.
  • Teach your children to never touch electrical outlets or play with electrical cords.

In your home, for everyone’s safety:

  • Use extreme caution when using electrical appliances near water.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets.
  • Replace electrical items that show signs of wear, such as frayed wires.
  • Keep your clothes dryer free of lint accumulation to avoid it becoming a fire hazard.
  • If you are in or standing in water, do not touch anything electrical.
  • Do not use extension cords to plug in appliances.
  • Plug items in appropriately (do not force a three-prong plug into a two-prong outlet.
  • Use certified surge protectors and power strips.
  • Keep clothes, curtains and other flammable items away from heat sources.
  • Use correct wattage light bulbs.

And outside, remember to:

  • Come indoors and remain there during an electrical storm (one with lightning strikes).
  • Never play near electrical wires.
  • Stay away from areas marked DANGER: HIGH VOLTAGE.
  • Never climb utility poles, transmission towers, etc.
  • Do not climb trees that are near power lines.
  • Do not throw anything at utility poles or wires.
  • Only fly kites in dry weather and in open spaces. If your kite does get caught in an electrical wire, call the electric company for help.

Contact a qualified electrician:

  • If you have recurring instances of blown fuses or tripping circuit breakers.
  • If you experience a tingling feeling when touching an electrical tool or appliance.
  • If your outlets or switches are warm or discolored.
  • If there is a burning or rubber-like smell coming from an appliance.
  • If you have flickering lights.
  • If there are sparks coming from an outlet.
  • If wall outlets are cracked or broken.

(Information from the U.S. Fire Administration, WebMD, NSTAR and Uptodate.com was used in this report)

Fire Safety

To help prevent fires:

  • Follow safe cooking practices: Never leave food that is cooking unattended; supervise children’s use of the stove, oven or microwave.
  • Install and maintain smoke alarms on every floor of the home and near every bedroom. Test them monthly.
  • Teach children that fire is not a toy and it can be dangerous.
  • Keep matches and lighters locked up and away from children.
  • Keep electrical cords from being trapped against walls.
  • Do not overload electrical circuits or extension cords.
  • Do not place electrical cords or wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas.
  • Shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or smell. Have them checked and repaired, or replaced.
  • Be careful when using portable heaters. Be sure bedding, clothing and other combustible items are at least 3 feet from space heaters.
  • Replace mattresses made prior to 2007, when flammability standards were implemented.
  • Use fireplace screens and have the chimney cleaned annually.
  • Kerosene heaters should only be used when approved by authorities. Do not use gasoline or camp-stove fuel. Refuel outside and only when the unit is cool.

Be prepared for a fire:

Fires occur quickly. In less than 30 seconds a single flame can become a fire. In two minutes, it can become life-threatening; in five minutes a residence can be destroyed. To protect yourself and your family, be prepared:

  • Have an escape plan and practice it with the children. Learn two ways out of every room and agree on a meeting place outside the building.
  • If you live in an apartment building, know the best route to the stairwell and emergency exits.
  • If you are in a room with a closed door when fire occurs, there are extra precautions:
    • Do not open the door if you see smoke under it.
    • If you don’t see smoke, check the door handle. If it is hot, do not open the door.
    • If you can open the door and there is no smoke or heat, proceed quickly to your exit.
    • Stay low to the ground as you exit
    • If you can’t get out right away, yell for help or call 911 if you have a phone. Do not hide in a closet or under a bed.

(Information from KidsHealth.org, Ready.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Fire Administration and Safe Kids Worldwide was used in this report)

Home Safety

Safety all through the home:

  • Use electrical outlet covers.socket safety
  • Unplug electrical appliances when not in use.
  • Install an appropriate number of smoke detectors – one near each bedroom, one at the top of each stairway and one near the planned escape route.
  • Teach your children that matches are a tool, and not a toy. Keep matches out of reach of younger children, and allow older children to use them only when supervised.
  • Store all flammable liquids properly.
  • Store all chemicals and cleaners out of reach of children, or lock the cabinet.
  • Have the electrical wiring in your house checked professionally every 10 years.
  • Have the fireplace and chimney inspected every year before the cold weather season.
  • Replace damaged electrical cords.
  • Do not leave lighted candles unattended.
  • Gasoline has only one purpose: to fuel an engine.

Safety in the kitchen and dining area:

  • Always supervise children in the kitchen and dining area.
  • Keep children away from everything that is hot.
  • If young children are in the home, use placemats rather than tablecloths.
  • Keep all hot items and anything electrical out of reach of children and away from edges of tables and counters.
  • Establish a kid-free zone, where young children can be watched but are safely out of the kitchen while cooking is being done.
  • Do not use deep-fryers with children present.
  • Keep pot handles turned inward; use oven mitts or pot holders. Keep clothing from coming into contact with flames or heating elements.
  • Store all chemicals and cleaners out of reach of children, or lock the cabinet.
  • Follow instructions and cautions for heating items in a microwave oven.
  • Avoid area rugs in the kitchen.
  • Do not handle hot items while holding young children.

Safety in the bathroom:

  • Have a latch-bolt on the outside of the bathroom door so young children cannot enter the bathroom unsupervised.
  • Always supervise children in the bath.
  • The water in a child’s bath should not exceed 104° F. Set your water heater no higher than 120° F.
  • Run cold water in the tub first, and then add warmer water.
  • Before placing a child in the tub, test the water temperature by moving your hand through the water.
  • If the water feels hot, it is too hot for a child.
  • When placing a child in the bathtub, face them away from the faucets and as close to the other end of the tub as possible.
  • If you let your children play with toys while in the bathtub, do not leave them unattended.
  • Consider not permitting toys in the bathtub.

Safety planning in case a fire does occur:

  • Have an escape plan, including two exits from each room, in place.
  • Practice using the plan.
  • Have a designated meeting place at a safe distance from the home.
  • Call 911 in the case of an emergency.

Scald Safety

How scalds happen

Most scalds occur in residences. Scald burns are typically related to ordinary activities – bathing, cooking and eating – and often happen to children because of a lapse in adult supervision or a lack of protective measures. Youngsters may not understand or even be aware of potential dangers of hot liquids (especially water) and foods; they simply trust adults to keep them safe.

In addition, young children have thinner skin that burns more quickly than adults’. People of all ages can be burned in 30 seconds by a flowing liquid that is 130° F; at 140° F, it takes only 5 seconds; at 160° F, it only takes 1 second. For children under 5, these temperatures can cause a burn in half the time.

Quick facts about scald injuries

  • Every day, hundreds of young children with scald burns are taken to emergency rooms.
  • Scalds or other contact burns are the cause of 90 percent of burn injuries to children age 5 and younger.
  • Children under 4 years of age and people with disabilities are at high risk of burn-related death and injury, especially scald and contact burns.
  • Hot tap water accounts for nearly one in four of all scald burns among children and is associated with more deaths and hospitalizations than any other hot liquid.

(Source: Safe Kids USA)

Preventing scalds

According to Safe Kids USA, hot tap-water burns most often occur in the bathroom and tend to be more severe and cover a larger portion of the body than other scald burns. Continuous supervision of young children is the most important factor in preventing tap-water scald burns, but there are additional simple preventive measures that can be taken, including:

  • Lower the temperature settings on water heaters to 120° F (49° C) or less.
  • When filling the bathtub, turn on cold water first. Mix in warmer water carefully.
  • Check the water temperature by rapidly moving your hand through the water. If the water feels hot to an adult, it is too hot for a child.
  • When placing a child in the tub, face them away from faucets and as close to the other end of the tub as possible.

Scalds also occur in the kitchen and dining room. Many of these can be prevented by following these tips:

  • Always supervise children in the kitchen and dining areas.
  • Keep pot handles turned inward; use oven mitts or pot holders. Keep clothing from coming into contact with flames or heating elements.
  • Keep children away from everything that is hot.
  • Follow instructions and cautions for heating items in a microwave oven.
  • Do not use deep fryers with children present.

These suggestions may seem obvious, but given the statistics, they cannot be repeated too often. Burn prevention materials are available here and include burn prevention posters, activity books and fact sheets.

 

 

 

Patient Referral

916-453-2191
916-453-2111 (Emergency Referral)
916-453-2395 (fax)
referrals.ncal@shrinenet.org

a graphic of some silhouettes of children playing