Photo: Burn Awareness Week website
Photo: Burn Awareness Week website

Water, not fire, burns most children

by - Story: 52458

The Kelowna Fire Department is using Burn Awareness Week, February 7-13, to tell parents that fire is not the only source of severe burns among children.

Water, normally the firefighter’s friend, can also be a foe.

A survey by Safe Kids Canada found the 70 per cent of Canadian parents did not know the most common cause of burn injuries to children is scalds from hot liquids, such as spilled hot drinks and hot tap water, rather than fire.

“It is a big issue,” says John Baillie, a KFD firefighter and the department’s Burn Awareness representative. “I’ve been to the annual burn camps and noticed that scalding often happens to the feet or hands because parents haven’t tested the water before the child gets in the tub, or because the kids are in the bathtub and turn on the tap and boiling hot water comes out.”

The B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund’s 14th Annual Burn Awareness Week program is available online.

It is designed to teach kids to be responsible for their own safety and help make sure their families are aware of potentially harmful situations.

“In the bathtub, for example, parents should get in the habit of testing the water first and running the cold water after the bath is filled, so that if the kids turn on the tap while they’re in there, it’s not hot water that comes out first.”

He says children and older adults, by virtue of their thinner skin, sustain severe burns at lower temperatures and in less time than an adult.

Hot liquids at 60 C (140 F) take less than five seconds to produce a third-degree (full thickness) burn.

Central Okanagan schools participate in the Burn Awareness Week program to learn responsibility for their personal safety, and increase family awareness of potentially harmful situations.

“Another key thing we try to get across is the importance of having a meeting place for the family in case there is a fire. Everyone should know how to leave the house in an emergency and where to meet once they’re out – a favourite tree or some familiar landmark.”

“It’s reassuring to the family in an emergency and it helps us get on with our job if we know everyone’s accounted for.”

Local students who participate in the Burn Awareness Week poster contest can win money for their school.

Every entrant wins a participation prize and seven regional prizes are awarded, including a $1,000 grand prize and six $500 regional prizes. Forty-three students win runner-up prizes of $50 each for their school. Complete prize details, rules and regulations are listed online.

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