When To Go To The Emergency Room for a Burn

Having your kids participate in baking or cooking can be a fun experience. But things can quickly turn serious. Most scald burns (84%) occur in the home and in children under the age of five, the in-home injury rate increases to 95%. The CDCP (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that there are more than 300 children seen in emergency rooms and two children die from burn injuries every day. The most common cause of burn injuries to children is scalded from hot liquids. It only takes about two seconds of exposure to water that is 148 degrees F to cause burns that are serious enough for surgery and the majority of these burns are preventable.

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Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Tips to Prevent Scald Burns

Scalds from hot tap water are sometimes the most severe. To prevent the risk of scalding from hot water, set your water heater to 120 degrees F or just below. The medium setting can reduce the risk of scalding. Other prevention tips include:

  • Use the back burners and turn pan handles toward the back of the stove to prevent children from pulling them down.
  • Do not let children near the stove while you are cooking
  • Do not place hot drinks on edge of counters and tables
  • Use a mug with a lid for all of your hot drinks
  • Use a thermometer to test bath water and run hands through the water to check for hot spots
  • Stir and test food that has been cooked in the microwave before serving
  • Never hold or carry a child while you have hot drinks in your hand
When to Go to the Emergency Room

Burn severity depends on how much skin is damaged and the depth of the burn. There are three categories of burns:

  • First degree burns do not need to be treated by a healthcare provider. These burns are the least serious type and only the outer layer of skin is involved. There may be some pain, swelling, and redness. First-degree burns should be soaked in cool water for about 5 minutes and then apply an antibiotic ointment and wrap in a dry gauze bandage.
  • Second-degree burns are more serious and will cause white, red, or splotchy skin, pain, swelling, and blisters. A second-degree burn that is smaller than 3-inches can be treated at home in the same manner as a first-degree burn, except the burn should be placed in cool water for 15 minutes. If the burn is larger than 3-inches or it covers the face, feet, hands, groin, buttocks, or a major joint, it should be treated as a major burn, so you should seek immediate medical attention.
  • A third-degree burn is the most serious type of burn. These burns require a call to 9-1-1 and immediate medical attention. With this type of burn all layers of the skin, the underlying fat, and sometimes the bone and muscle. Someone with a third-degree burn needs to go to the ER immediately! Do not remove clothing that is stuck to the burn and does not soak the burn or apply ointment. Third-degree burn victims may also have problems breathing, carbon monoxide poisoning, and/or other toxic effects if there was smoke inhalation along with the burn.
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We can evaluate and treat certain burns as well as other injuries for adults and children. Practicing prevention and being prepared is the BEST medicine.

Surepoint Emergency Center is a modern emergency medical facility open 24/7/365. As an alternative to the traditional hospital ER experience, we offer convenience and minimal wait time, along with highly-trained emergency medical staff and state-of-the-art equipment.

Our top priority is bringing high-quality emergency care, quickly and easily to your family. We are committed to making patients feel better faster in a comforting and compassionate environment.

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