Feb 07, 2022
An estimated 486,000 burn injuries occur per year—or about one every 65 seconds. As the American Burn Association advises, "Preventing a burn injury is always better than the pain and trauma of medical treatment afterward." Here are a few reminders of how to stay safe while cooking.
- Hot Water Burns Like Fire
Hot water can burn skin at far less than its boiling point of 212°. The severity of scalds depends on the temperature of the water and the length of time the skin is exposed. Human exposure to hot water at 140°F (the temperature of many home hot water heaters) can lead to a serious burn within three seconds. At 120°F (the recommended temperature for home hot water heaters), a serious burn takes about 10 minutes. Barista-poured drinks from your local coffee shop are usually 150°-170°F. Scald burns from water, hot liquids like tea and coffee, and steam make up 65% of burns among children under the age of 4 who are hospitalized for burns.
- A Three-Foot Safety Zone Keeps Kids and Pets Safe
Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the area where hot food and beverages are prepared—that means around the stove or the barbecue pit if you are grilling outdoors. Never carry or hold a child while you are drinking a hot liquid or cooking.
- The Downside of Microwave Magic
Steam burns, removing hot containers from microwaves without a potholder, or spilling contents are frequent accidents, especially among children, teens, and the elderly. Be especially careful if the microwave is mounted above the cooktop or located on a high shelf.
- Put a Lid on It
Cooking accidents—mostly related to frying—cause about half of the home fires in America. If a frying pan of grease flares up, turn off the heat source and put a lid on the pan; a cookie sheet will work too.
- The Four C's: Cool It, Clean It, Cover It, and Call for Help
If you receive a burn, run cool tap water over the injured area. Then clean the area with soap and water; apply a topical antibacterial ointment like Neosporin, cover with a bandage, and call for help. If serious, call 911. If it is a smaller burn or you are unsure about whether to seek care, call the University of Utah Health Burn Center at 801-581-2700.