The American Burn Association (ABA) states 72 percent of burns occur at home - Eskenazi Health

Physicians and nurses at the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health are urging everyone to use caution while cooking, drinking hot beverages and taking a shower or bath to prevent scald injuries. 

Nearly 500,000 people seek medical treatment for burn injuries each year in the United States, and an estimated 72 percent of burns occur at home, according to the American Burn Association (ABA). Hot liquids, such as coffee, tea, soup and tap water, can cause serious burn injuries. 

National Burn Awareness Week is Feb. 1 – 7 this year. Throughout the week, burn care staff from Eskenazi Health will be emphasizing prevention of cooking and scald injuries, especially for older adults and children. Scalds are the number one burn injury to children under the age of four. 

The Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center hopes to decrease the number of burn injuries by educating the community about the dangers of scalds. 

“Most people associate burns with flames; however, burns caused by liquids can be just as severe and painful as those caused by fire,” said Dr. Rajiv Sood, medical director of the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health and professor of plastic surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "Our burn center has seen patients with severe scalding burn injuries resulting from things such as hot water and cooking. Scalds are a completely preventable injury.”

Burn accidents frequently occur when parents or caregivers are in a hurry, angry or simply under a lot of pressure. The following tips from the ABA will help to 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.
  • Dr. Sood said above all, continuous and adequate supervision of children and the elderly in the kitchen and bathroom is of prime importance.

    Verified by the American College of Surgeons and the American Burn Association, the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center treats more than 350 inpatients each year in addition to 3,700 outpatient visits with patients from across the country. The Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center is regarded as one of the finest and most progressive burn centers in the United States and is located above the Michael & Susan Smith Emergency Department and Smith Level I Shock Trauma Center at Eskenazi Health. For more information about the unit or burn prevention, please call 317.880.6900.

    CONTACT: Kate Taylor
    Phone: 317.880.4783
    Pager: 317.310.5972   
    Email: kate.taylor@eskenazihealth.edu