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The Perspective
The Perspective

November 26, 2018

Holiday burn prevention strategies

A Perspective from Charis Kelly, Nurse Practitioner in the Burns Program, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at SickKids.

‘Tis the season for holiday festivities, chestnuts roasting on an open fire and marshmallows in a hot cup of cocoa.  Crackling fires, or glowing beautiful rocks in a gas, glass-fronted fireplace paint a warm and cozy scene. For many this is true, but for a health care practitioner in the Burn Program at SickKids, it might conjure up different thoughts.

Hot coffee, tea, cocoa, and other hot liquids account for 70 per cent of the scald burns seen at SickKids every year.  Just one cup can cover 20 per cent of a toddler’s body which can result in life-long scars.  Keeping these beverages out of the reach of children is harder than you think. The curiosity of a child can lead to new levels of determination and surfaces that seemed far out of their reach are suddenly attainable.

Glass-fronted gas fireplaces are one of the leading causes of contact burns to toddlers who have met new developmental milestones such as cruising and toddling. A glowing fire mixed with newfound mobility can result in full thickness burns to a child’s palms, which can debilitate them for life.

Christmas trees adorned with colourful lights are a beautiful centrepiece for evening parties and PJ-themed present opening on Christmas morning but can also be a potential source for house fires due to dried trees and a heat source.

Let’s make this holiday season one to remember for the right reasons.  Protect those you care about with these simple burn prevention strategies, used now and for all future occasions!

Keep hot liquids out of the reach of children, in traveller mugs with screw-top lids or drink beverages at a temperature that is not dangerous to children.  

Keep children out of the kitchen when cooking and teach your children that the kitchen is not a safe place to play. This will help condition them to be cautious when entering the kitchen, knowing there are hot surfaces and liquids that could be harmful.

Keep the fireplace turned off when young children are present. The surface of a fireplace can reach over 400 degrees and can stay hot for up to 24 hours. If you do choose to keep it on, please cover it with a safe guard that will protect little hands.

Water Christmas trees to prevent them from drying out and check lights often to ensure they are operating appropriately to ensure there are no sparks, shortages, or flickering.  

Check fire and smoke alarms to make sure the batteries are working and test them regularly.  

Hospital visits are not on anyone’s wish list, and we should all work to keep it that way. Everyone can use these practical, simple tips to make this season a safe, fun-filled and joyous time.