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National Burn Awareness Week 2013: Keeping Your Family Safe

Burn Care

The Grossman Burn Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital (SJCH) is excited to join with burn centers, burn survivors and burn caregivers across the country to celebrate National Burn Awareness Week from February 3-9.

According to the American Burn Association, more than 450,000 people receive medical treatment for a burn injury each year. Of those, 25,000 are admitted to specialized burn centers which are best equipped for caring for burns survivors, on both a short-term and long-term basis. However, with only 125 burn centers in the United States, many people simply do not have access to a burn center. Since the physical aspects of a serious burn injury often requires years of reconstructive surgeries and therapies, it is vital for families – especially those with children – to understand how to prevent and treat burn injuries.

Since opening in 2009, the Grossman Burn Center at SJCH has cared for hundreds of burns, with more than 40 percent involving children. Karen Garner, director of Critical Care at SJCH, emphasizes taking the proper steps to safeguard your home against burn accidents.

"In Kern County, we’ve observed that organizations are employing more training and ensuring that best-practice precautions are instituted to prevent burn accidents on the job. Unfortunately, people are not employing the same steps in their homes."

Although accidents do happen, most burns are preventable. There are many simple steps that families can follow to keep all members of the household safe.

HousekeepingKeep tabs on the temperature:

  • Keep fire exits and escape routes clutter-free.
  • Store flammable materials – such as paint thinner – in original, tightly sealed containers and away from ignition sources.
  • Store gasoline and other fuels outside and out of reach.
  • Keep matches and lighters in a secure place.
  • Unplug electrical tools when not in use.
  • Ensure you have smoke detectors in every room in your home.
  • Check the batteries each month and change them once a year.
  • Keep kids away from fireplaces. The glass in front of a fireplace can heat up to 200 degrees and cause serious hand burns.
  • Check your water heater – 120 degrees is sufficient to wash clothes and dishes.

KitchenKeep it out of reach:

  • Put pans on rear burners.
  • Keep hot dishes and drinks away from the edges of counter tops.
  • Keep appliance cords – like toasters – out of reach.
  • Don’t leave food unattended.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing while cooking.

BathroomTest the water:

  • If the bathtub water feels a little hot for you, it’s too hot for your child. Test the water by moving your hand back and forth after the tub is filled.
  • Never leave your kids unattended in the bath tub. It only takes a second for a child to be burned.
  • Unfortunately, hundreds of burn accidents do occur in Kern County. If you or you someone in your family is burned, it’s crucial to act immediately. "The first few hours are critical when it comes to burns," Garner said. "Often a burn will not appear serious initially. But, if untreated, the burn will become exponentially worse over the next 24 hours. That’s why it’s so important to act quickly."

If you’re burned:

  • Cool the burn with cool or room-temperature water for 15-20 minutes.
  • Don’t pop blisters.
  • Cover the burn with a clean, dry cloth.
  • Wash wound gently with mild soap and water, especially if blister bursts.
  • Do not put butter, toothpaste, mayonnaise, ointments or anything similar on the burn. These keep the heat in, which can make a burn worse.

Contact the Grossman Burn Center at SJCH:

  • If pain, swelling or redness increases.
  • If you get a fever.
  • If the burn is bigger than the palm of your hand.
  • If the burn looks white or leathery.
  • For any chemical or electrical burn.
  • For any burn to the hands, feet, genitals or major body parts.

The Grossman Burn Center at SJCH is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information, please call (661) 869-6135. For media inquiries, please call the Marketing department at (661) 869-6560 or (661) 633-8519.