Nationally recognized during the first full week in February, Burn Awareness Week is an opportunity to educate adults and children on common causes of burns and share prevention tips to avoid serious injury. The Alexander Burn Center at Hillcrest Medical Center has been providing premier burn care in northeast Oklahoma for 50 years. Dr. Tara Wilson, medical director of the Alexander Burn Center spoke with us about the most common burns they encounter, common prevention techniques and how important burn awareness week is for educating and reminding everyone how dangerous burns can be.
When thinking about why it’s so important to take a week to highlight and bring awareness to burns, Dr. Wilson shares, “Burns impact so many people. The majority of these injuries are avoidable with key prevention methods we can employ in our households like supervision and cooking safely. For us, it’s about educating the public on burn hazards they may not necessarily think are dangerous. Having an adult supervising children is a major prevention method, as children are more susceptible to burns.” Dr. Wilson adds “Making sure your hot water heater is set at the right temperature, blowing out candles when you leave the room, and other preventative measures can be brought to the forefront by burn awareness week so we can potentially decrease burn visits. Burn visits due to scald injuries have actually increased over the years. Ten years ago, under 30% of admissions were due to scald injury, we’re now at 35%.”
The most common burn injuries seen by the staff at the Alexander Burn Center at Hillcrest Medical Center include many scald injuries and injuries that are cooking-related, like grease burns. The American Burn Association (ABA) recommends that when cooking, you are aware of several prevention measures. The ABA recommends always wiping down your stove, oven and exhaust fan to prevent grease buildup and the risk of grease burns. The ABA also recommends allowing food to rest and cool before removing it from the microwave, and using a pan lid or splash guard to prevent grease splatter. Dr. Wilson adds “We also see a lot of seasonal types of burns. In the winter months, we see a lot of burns related to house fires and space heater burns, while in the summer months we see more brush fire burns and trash fire burns.”
When you get burned, it is often your first instinct to put ice on your burn. Dr. Wilson shares, “You want to stop the burning process, so remove yourself from the event that caused the burn. A lot of people will immediately put ice on a burn to cool it, but you actually do not want to treat with such extreme temperatures. We recommend not placing ice over a burn, but instead rinsing the area with lukewarm water and applying a dry dressing. Then go to the closest urgent care or burn center.”
“We really want to highlight how important it is to have appropriate supervision in areas of the home where children are most likely to be burned, which are the bathroom and the kitchen. It’s also important to have appropriate supervision with appliances like the microwave. We are surrounded by burn hazards every day, but if we can do our part to prevent serious burns, we will decrease pain and suffering for our loved ones young and old.”