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Parkland burn center staff urges caution when near hot liquids


Irving, Texas. October 10, 2017

As the temperatures begin to fall and Jack Frost is taking an ever so slight nip at your nose, a quick way to warm the chill is with a piping hot cup of soup. And while the aroma of the freshly-made comfort food may be enticing, officials with Parkland Health & Hospital System’s regional burn center offer a word of caution before indulging.
Nearly 500,000 people seek medical treatment for burns each year in the United States, and an estimated 72 percent of burns occur at home, according to the American Burn Association (ABA). And not all burns are the result of fire or flames. Hot liquids, such as soup, coffee, tea or tap water, can cause serious burn injuries.
In the last two years, more than 75 people have been admitted to Parkland’s burn unit for injuries caused by hot soup. Of those, 87 percent were children.

“Although we know intuitively that soup can be hot, many times we don’t realize just how hot it can get, especially since it’s not boiling like water used for tea,” said Stephanie Campbell, RN, Parkland’s Burn Program Manager. “In reality it’s a very hot liquid that can cause serious injuries, especially in young children since they have thinner skin.”

To that end, Campbell urges parents and other adults to create a “kid-free zone” around stoves and cooktops with strict instructions that children must not go past a real or imaginary line by the stove. Knowing that they are not permitted near the stove may reduce the risk that a toddler will reach for a pan, pull it toward them and spill the hot liquid onto themselves. Older children must exercise caution when warming up a can of soup on the stove or removing a bowl from the microwave.

“Adults have to be careful, too,” Campbell said. “As we’re rushing to grab a quick bite or put a meal on the table, burn accidents can happen. Those injuries occur when parents or caregivers are in a hurry, angry or simply under a lot of pressure. The key is to slow down.”

During Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 8-14, the ABA offers tips to help prevent scalds and other burn injuries that can occur in the kitchen:

• Do not use a towel to handle hot pots and pans. Use oven mitts or heat resistant pot holders instead
• Use caution when cooking with grease. Heat the burner at a low to medium setting, and keep a pan lid within reach
• Place pots and pans on back burners to keep them out of reach of children, turning handles inward to avoid knocking them over or children grabbing them
• Set your water heater temperature to no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit, just below the medium setting, to prevent scalds from faucets
• Test all heated liquid/food before giving it to a child or placing it within his/her reach
• Remove tablecloths when toddlers are present in the home. They tug and pull on everything within their reach. Hot liquids can easily be pulled down on them
• Avoid using area rugs in the kitchen, especially near the stove. They can cause falls and scalds
• Be sure to inform babysitters about kitchen and appliance safety and teach them to prevent burn injuries when preparing meals.

“There’s nothing better than sitting down with a hot cup of soup on a crisp fall day,” Campbell said. “Just slow down, watch out for curious toddlers and be mindful that although accidents can and do happen, a little prevention goes a long way.”

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