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Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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Burn Awareness Week: Prevention Tips


Burn Awareness Week |  PREVENTION TIPS

Burn injury is traumatic and can cause both physical and psychological pain.  Portland Fire & Rescue urges you to take the time to make your environment and the environment of those you love a safe place. 

Preventing Tap-Water Scalds

  • Provide constant adult supervision of young children, anyone who may experience difficulty removing themselves from hot water, or people who may not recognize the danger in turning on the hot water.
  • Do not leave children unattended in the bathroom while hot water is running. Take children or dependent persons with you if you leave the bathroom.
  • Fill the tub to desired level and turn the water off before getting in. Run cool water first and then add hot. Turn the hot water off quickly.
  • Mix the water thoroughly and check the temperature by moving your elbow, wrist, or spread fingers through the water before allowing someone to get in. The water should feel warm to the touch. The safest temperature for bathing is about 37 C.
  • Seat children facing away from faucets and so they cannot reach the faucet. Turn the faucet to the COLD position.
  • Install grab bars and non-slip flooring or mats in tubs and showers if someone is unsteady or weak. Use a shower chair or stool when bathing or showering if standing unassisted is a problem.
  • Provide a way to call for help (bell or whistle) for individuals who may need assistance or may be unable to remove themselves from the tub or shower in case of emergency.
  • Avoid flushing toilets, running water, or using the dishwasher or washing machine while anyone is showering to avoid sudden fluctuations in water temperature.
  • Consider keeping the door closed when the bathroom is not in use.
  • Reinforce these recommendations with babysitters and other care providers.
  • Install anti-scald devices, anti-scald aerators, and scald guards. These are heat-sensitive devices that stop or interrupt the flow of water when it reaches a pre-determined safe temperature, preventing hot water from coming out of the tap before scalding occurs.  

Preventing Scalds from Food and Beverages

  • Establish a safe area in the kitchen, out of the traffic path between the stove and sink, where children can safely play but still be supervised. Place young children in high chairs or play pens at a safe distance from counter or stovetops, hot liquids, hot surfaces or other cooking hazards while preparing or serving food.
  • Cook on back burners when children are present.
  • Keep all pot handles turned back and away from the stove edge. Appliance cords must be kept coiled and away from counter edges. Check handles on appliances and cooking utensils to ensure they are secure.
  • To prevent overheating and ignition of cooking oil, fry foods in a temperature controlled deep-fat fryer or skillet designed for a maximum temperature of 200 degrees Celsius.
  • When removing lids from hot foods, remember that steam may have accumulated. Lift the lid away from your face and arm.
  • Wear short sleeves or tight-fitting clothing while cooking. 
  • Always use oven mitts or potholders when moving pots of hot liquid or food.
  • Avoid using area rugs in cooking areas, especially near the stove. If area rugs are used, ensure they have non-slip backing to prevent falls and possible scalds.
  • During mealtime, place hot items in the centre of the table, at least 25 centimeters from the table edge.
  • Use non-slip placemats instead of tablecloths if toddlers are present. Young children may use the tablecloth to pull themselves up, causing hot food to spill down onto them. Tablecloths can also become tangled in crutches, walkers or wheelchairs, causing hot liquids to spill.
  • Never drink or carry hot liquids while holding or carrying a child. Quick motions (reaching or grabbing) may cause the hot liquid to spill and cause a burn.
  • Do not make hot coffee, tea or hot chocolate in a mug that a child normally uses. Consider using mugs with tight-fitting lids, like those used for travel, when children are present.
  • Do not place hot liquids on low coffee or end tables where young children can reach them.
  • Place microwaves at a safe height, within easy reach, for all users to avoid spills. All users should be tall enough to reach the microwave oven door, easily view the cooking area, and handle the food safely. Microwaves installed above counters or stoves can be a scald hazard for anyone.
  • Children under seven should not operate the microwave unless they are closely supervised. Instruct and supervise older children.
  • After heating formula or milk in baby bottles, mix well and test on the back of a hand or inner wrist before feeding.
  • Steam builds rapidly in covered containers and can easily result in burns to the face, arms and hands. Puncture plastic wrap or use vented containers to allow steam to escape while cooking. Or, wait at least one minute before removing the cover. When removing covers, lift the corner farthest away from your face and arm.
  • Steam in microwave popcorn bags can cause burns. Follow package directions. Allow microwave popcorn bags to stand one minute before opening, and open the bag away from the face.
  • Foods heat unevenly in microwaves. Remember, jelly and cream fillings in pastries may be extremely hot, even though outer parts of the food feel only warm.
  • Microwaved foods and liquids may reach temperatures greater than boiling without the appearance of bubbling. Stir and test food thoroughly before serving or eating.

Preventing Fire Burns

  •  Prevent children from playing with matches, lighters, and open flames (e.g. candles, furnaces, and water heaters).
  • Keep portable space heaters at least one meter (three feet) away from everything, including you.  Do not use with extension cords.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets and repair or replace frayed or worn-out electrical cords.
  • Practice safety while smoking.  Use large, deep ashtrays, and dispose of ashes in the toilet. Never smoke in bed or when impaired by medication or alcohol.
  • Teach children to STOP, DROP, & ROLL if their clothes catch fire, and to cool a burn in water.
  • Never leave cooking unattended.  If flames erupt while deep-frying, smother the fire by carefully sliding a lid or larger pan over the deep fryer and then turn off the heat.  Never carry the burning pot/pan or pour water on a cooking oil fire.
  • Mount candles on non-combustible holders and keep away from other combustibles.
  • Install at least one smoke alarm on every level of your home, preferably on the ceiling outside every sleeping area. Test smoke alarms once a month to ensure they are in working condition. Replace batteries once a year or when the alarm makes a low-battery "chirping" sound.
  • Develop and practice a home fire escape plan with your family.

Considerations for Individuals with Mobility Concerns

  • If it is necessary to move hot liquids while using a wheelchair, place a large, sturdy tray with a solid lip in your lap to decrease the risk of lap burns.
  • A tray in the lap may also prevent burns from hot foods or beverages if someone is unsteady or shaky.
  • Use a serving cart to transfer food from the stove to the table instead of carrying it.
  • Consider alternate cooking equipment (slow cookers, toaster ovens or microwaves) placed on lower counters or tables if the stove or oven is too high to reach safely. Be aware this may create a burn hazard if young children are present.

Other Prevention Tips

  • Place potpourri pots, especially those filled with oil, where they cannot be tipped and are out of the reach of children.
  • Replace hot steam vaporizers with a cool mist humidifier or vaporizers. If you must use a steam vaporizers, place it on a level surface to prevent tipping and keep it out of the reach of children. Allow the water to cool before emptying the vaporizers.
  • Car radiator scalds are common injuries, primarily to adult males. Do not remove the radiator cap when the engine is running. If radiator has overheated, do not remove cap until the engine has cooled.  

Check out the Fire Blog tomorrow and learn about BURN CARE!


February 10, 2010


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