Patient education: Burn prevention – A printable guide
EMS clinicians are in a unique position to provide proactive education to patients as the only subset of clinicians that enter their homes
Every 60 seconds, somebody in the U.S. suffers a burn severe enough to require medical treatment. Learn more about how burn patient treatment and destination are affected by severity, and print a downloadable guide on when to activate HEMS for a burned patient.
By David Wright, MS, PA-C, NRP; Kate Randolph, BS
Burn injuries are all too common: every 60 seconds, somebody in the U.S. suffers a burn severe enough to require medical treatment. Occurring primarily in children and the elderly, burns are a high-frequency, high-stress encounter for EMS.
Many of these burn injuries could often be avoided with basic household safety and maintenance. As EMS clinicians, we are in a unique position to be able to provide proactive education to patients as the only subset of clinicians that enter the patient's personal space (home).
Even when a call is unrelated to burn safety, clinicians should always be aware of burn hazards in the home that can be prevented by basic household safety and maintenance, and provide real-time feedback and education.
Basic prevention can include the following key components [1-3]:
- Smoke detectors. It is appropriate to have functional smoke detectors installed in all living areas, including outside of each bedroom. Most major fire departments have smoke detector programs if you notice a family doesn’t have any.
- Having an escape plan. Each family should have a fire escape plan, with designated meeting points. When in a house, look at ingress and egress points, and advise families to keep them clear.
- Cooking safety. Keeping children out of the kitchen, keeping hot items back on counters, and being cautious when moving around with hot objects, can all help with burn safety.
- Water heater temperature. Water heaters should be kept at 120℉ to limit the potential for scald burns.
- Grills. Keep children and infants away from open grills when in use.
- Fireworks safety. Do not use fireworks around small children or allow small children to light fireworks.
- Electrical cords. Long or frayed extension cords can be a fire hazard as well as a trip hazard. Frayed extension cords should be replaced. Melted extension cords likely mean the cord is being used above its safe operating zone.
- Do not use microwaves to heat up baby bottles. It is preferred to use hot water (on a water heater set to 120℉) to heat up baby formula. It is less likely for bottles to be at temperatures that can burn infants.
- Space heaters. Space heaters are the No. 1 cause of residential fires in the winter. Keeping areas around the space heater clear of flammable materials can reduce fire potential. Keeping space heaters away from places that children can touch them is also important.
- Candles. Lit candles can also cause fires with debris and flammable materials around the flam. Candles should also be kept out of the reach of small children.
- Mayo Clinic (2020) Burn Safety: Protect your child from burns. Accessed from: www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/child-safety/art-20044027
- American Academy of Family Physicians. Burns: Preventing burns in your home. Accessed from: https://familydoctor.org/burns-preventing-burns-in-your-home/
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Burn Prevention. Accessed from: https://www.cdc.gov/safechild/burns/index.html
About the author
Kate Randolph, BS
Kate recently graduated in May 2020 from Central Methodist University where she graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology. She is highly motivated to continue working to complete the pre-requisites before pursuing admission as a physician assistant student in 2021. She is currently employed at Mercy Hospital in Creve Couer as a patient care associate in the Medical Progressive Care Unit where she is able to provide excellent patient care and follow her passion for medicine, while obtaining valuable experience in the healthcare field. She hopes one day to work as a pediatric physician assistant taking care of infants and children in their time of need.