Feb 6, 2017

Interviewer: Are you a new parent? Well, here are three burn dangers you need to watch out for. We'll examine that next on The Scope.

Woman: Health tips, medical news, research, and more for a happier, healthier life. From University of Utah Health Sciences, this is The Scope.

Interviewer: When you bring a brand new baby home, there are a lot of things that you've got to make sure that your house is safe for them. One of the things you have to start thinking about is potential burn dangers, and we're going to talk about three things you should do . . . three burn dangers you should watch out for when you bring that new child home or you have a new child in the house. Annette Matherly is with the University of Utah Burn Center. Let's cover these three things: number one . . .

Annette: Number one would absolutely be that beautiful glass fronted gas fireplace, which is quite a mouthful for me to say, but that fire is really attractive to young children and that glass stays hot for at least an hour after it's turned off. So it's not just when the fire is on that it's hot. It's when it's off and it looks safe that it remains hot enough to burn a child in about a second.

Interviewer: And I think that's really surprising when people find that out because they think that that glass is like the glass in your oven, right? The oven could be at 450 degrees. You could touch that glass. You're fine. The glass fronted fireplace, not that kind of glass.

Annette: Absolutely not, which is strange because it's about 1,300 degrees when it's hot, which is crazy to think about. And so, now, there's legislation moving forward to ensure that everybody puts a guard around that glass fronted fireplace, but that doesn't protect you if you go to a vacation spot or a hotel or a restaurant that doesn't have that guard around or it doesn't protect you if you've had your glass fronted gas fireplace in for a while and you're not aware of the danger surrounding that.

Interviewer: All right. So, remember, that glass front fireplace, it's pretty, it's like a magnet that kids' hands would love to go up there and it stays hot for a long time. So be aware of that. That's number one. If you're a new parent, you've got three burn dangers to watch out for: number two . . .

Annette: Number two would be hot liquids burn like fire, which seems counterintuitive because we think fire burns like fire. We don't think of something in a cup burning like fire, but to know that hot water right from your water heater is set at about 146 if you haven't turned it down. And so a suggestion to new parents, especially because that child has much thinner skin than an adult, would be to turn that water heater down to 120. You can measure that by putting a candy thermometer in the first water that comes out of your tap and then it's usually a low, medium setting.

Interviewer: So the default settings for hot water heaters is 146.

Annette: 146.

Interviewer: And how long does that take to burn a child?

Annette: Two seconds for a significant injury to occur.

Interviewer: And 120 is a little safer or a lot safer?

Annette: Absolutely. So it doesn't mean that you won't get burn injured, but what it means is that there's some more time. There's minutes as opposed to seconds.

Interviewer: And what about hot liquids like in your cup there that was hot, cups of coffee and stuff?

Annette: If you think about your Starbucks, or whatever it is, your beverage of choice, when a barista pours it, it's around 180, which is crazy if you think 146 is water that comes from your tap and burns you in two seconds. So 180 is outrageously high and much faster than that two second incident. So never carry your young child whilst carrying a hot beverage and ensure that your beverage stays away from countertops and tables, that tablecloths aren't used so young children can't pull on that tablecloth and pull that beverage down onto themselves.

Interviewer: And maybe go out and buy some mugs like your fancy one three with that airtight seal on it.

Annette: Absolutely. My beautiful silver one, so, you know, if you've got a young child then we usually say, "got a kid, get a lid."

Interviewer: Okay. Very good. All right. So glass front fireplaces, hot liquids burn like fire, what's the third thing that new parents should watch out for as far as burn dangers are concerned?

Annette: So we talk about a three-foot safety zone around a lot of things. So around a campfire would be another thing, but also around your cooking area. So, if you have a small child, I know it's not always possible to put a physical three-foot marker with duct tape on the floor. Most people don't want that in their beautiful kitchens.

Interviewer: You could.

Annette: You absolutely could, but to think visually where that marker would be, especially when you have little children roaming around or a brand new infant because that also includes cooking with a child in your arms. So to be aware of what you are holding in that precious bundle and is it worth the risk.

Interviewer: And other than the stove, a lot of people don't really realize the microwave, stuff that comes out of there can be dangerous, ramen noodles, boiling water.

Annette: Absolutely. So ramen noodles are the number one for teens because teens come home from school. They go and they put something hot in the microwave, and oftentimes, again, like you said, it's above head level, and so they're reaching to pull something down and they'll pull it right down on their face.

Interviewer: Yeah. And if you have a child in your arm and you reach up with one hand, you fumble that item. It doesn't take long.

Annette: Absolutely.

Interviewer: All right. So those are the three really good things to watch out for if you're a new parent because a lot of burn prevention is just awareness and implementing some of these changes in your household. Do you have any other final advice for that new parent coming home with that new child to keep them more burn safe?

Annette: So the last thing would be burn prevention is a team sport. We work as a team to ensure that each other is kept safe so when you bring home your new child then to talk to others that are maybe not familiar with the dangers that you've just heard about. So maybe grandparents, maybe babysitters would be another really important one as you go out on a date with your partner and leave your child in the care of another. And so, to ensure that they're aware of the things that could really cause lifelong injury to a small child would be really important to mention before you leave.

Interviewer: And having these conversations really can make a difference.

Annette: Absolutely. Most burns are preventable. It is very, very infrequently that we see somebody come through our unit that it could not have been prevented. So, to know and to educate yourself about the dangers of fire and then to educate those around you would be really important.

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