The world of a young child must be a bewildering one. Everything is new to them. Adults may glorify the natural wanderlust and curiosity of a child while they bemoan the overriding circumspection they have grown into, but inquisitiveness comes at a cost. It is the duty of a grownup to encourage the intrepid child, but we are equally responsible for their safety. Kids will continuously hurt themselves. They will carelessly shovel a range of odd objects into their mouths and their lip service will always be forthcoming.
Most of their exploits will offer up nothing more than mere a bruise or an upset tummy, but there are real dangers planted aplenty which can seriously hurt a child. Many of these hazards are present at home. Burns account for a large portion of injuries that children incur. Those who are under five years of age are far more susceptible because of their inborn enthralment. We aren’t always able to keep an eye on them, but we ought to teach ourselves how to treat a child should something terrible happen.
Fire-related incidents make up the bulk of deaths in children who have suffered burns. Other types of burns are far more prevalent though and these can have serious ramification both physically and emotionally well into a person’s life. At home, especially during the winter months, children often burn themselves on stovetops. Heaters and open fires also make up a large portion of burn-related incidents while scalding from boiling water is just as commonplace. Burns from corrosive agents and power points, while not as frequent, can inflict some of the more severe injuries.
August is Child Safety Month and the theme, by simple extrapolation, is to raise awareness on how to prevent and treat burns among children. ChildSafe will vehemently advocate this message all month long and their campaign will focus on adult education should a child suffer the unthinkable. In 2018 alone the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital’s trauma unit saw 1117 children admitted for burn-related injuries and they unfortunately saw a few succumb to their wounds. Yolande Baker, ChildSafe’s executive director says that incidents are quite common.
“Children can get burned at any time of the year, but we see a dramatic increase in the number of children treated for burns in the colder months, with stoves, heaters and open fires used to heat homes. That’s why it’s important to teach them from a very early age how they can avoid getting burned.” She also says that it is indeed possible to forestall any incident by being alert and perceptive should any potential threat be in use when a child is present. There are also multiple ways to avoid incidence.
“Every injury caused by burns is a tragedy. But these injuries can be averted with extra vigilance and monitoring from parents and care-givers. As much as children can be burned in many ways, there are also many ways to prevent children from getting burned. There are ways to make homes more safe, and ways to remind children every day of the dangers of being near to flames or boiling liquids. But it’s something that needs to be remembered every day.” ChildSafe launched the campaign with a few simple tips to avoid tragedy.
ChildSafe’s Top Ten Tips for Preventing Burns:
- Be vigilant with children around heaters, stoves, candles and other open flames such as candles, paraffin lamps, portable stoves, braais and wood or coal fires.
- Turn pot handles towards the back of the stove.
- Place hot liquids and food at the centre of the table.
- Always test the water temperature with your elbow before placing a child in the bath.
- Place kettles and cords at the back of the counter or table.
- Teach children from as young as possible about the difference between the hot and cold taps.
- Avoid overloading power points, and don’t run electrical wires under carpets.
- Cover unused power outlets with safety plugs.
- Never hold a child while cooking on the stove.
- Immediately extinguish wood and coal fires with water, and paraffin, oil or petrol fires with sand or a fire extinguisher, once you’ve finished using them.
ChildSafe also offers some simple first-aid steps which can be taken if a child is burned:
- Remove the child from the source of danger.
- Cool a burn under cold water for a long time.
- Protect the injury with a clean cloth or plastic wrap.
- Seek immediate advice from a medical professional or emergency service.
Child Safety Month runs throughout August. For more information about the events and information sessions during the month, contact [email protected], or check the organisation’s website www.childsafe.org.za.