By Nico Strydom
Burns are usually caused in and around the home and that is why it is essential to take the necessary precautions.
To health care providers the winter months are known as the burn season as people who contract burns during this period usually increase significantly. This is of course due to the cold and people using appliances to try and stay warm.
According to Russel Meiring, spokesperson of ER24, burns can be very serious for children as well as adults. “However, children are more inclined to contract serious burns as they cause an accident more easily and do not necessarily understand the safety aspects.”
The kitchen is one of the areas where the most burns are contracted. “It happens easily that children pull a pot filled with boiling water from the stove or touch the hot elements of the stove. Heaters also hold a risk, while a bath filled with hot water can also cause serious burns.”
According to Meiring, children should never be left without supervision close to any heat source. “The best ways to avoid burns, are preparation and safety. To inform children about these hazards and to know what to do in the case of an emergency can prevent these incidents as well as the seriousness of injuries incurred,” says Meiring.
What should I do if someone is burning?
David Stanton, head of clinical leadership at Netcare 911, says the most important rule is to get away from the heat source that caused the fire as soon as possible. “If your clothes have caught alight, lie down on the ground and roll around to try and dowse the flames. This also applies if you are trying to help someone else.”
Stanton warns that a blanket or carpet would not necessarily be the right material to use to extinguish a fire as some materials would only worsen the situation. It is best to use water or a fire extinguisher to try and dowse a fire.
When somebody has burned, try and remove any clothes that might be covering the wound, as it can contain the heat. Clothes clinging to the wound should however not be removed as it could cause further damage to the skin.
According to Meiring, the next step is to try and cool off the burnt area by holding it under running cold water. However, don’t use ice as it could also cause damage. “As soon as the wound has cooled down, cover it with a sterile substance and bandages, but if the wound is very big or in a sensitive area, medical assistance should be obtained immediately.”
Stanton says folk medicine should rather be avoided, such as tooth paste, butter or any other kind of cream as they could cause the wound to be difficult to clean and could also cause infection.
Netcare 911: http://www.netcarehospitals.co.za/Articles/ArticleID=675