Preventing Burn-Related Injuries from Microwaves

Preventing Burn-Related Injuries from Microwaves

We so often fail to realize how dangerous a frequently used appliance can actually be for a child. Lurie Children’s Hospital treats many young children for second degree burns caused by liquids heated in microwave ovens.

“I see a lot of children aged 5 to 12 who come in with burns on their chest, abdomen, or arms because they take hot liquids, such as soup, out of the microwave too quickly. They are not prepared for the heat of the container and drop or spill the bowl of liquid on themselves, often times sustaining partial thickness (or second degree) burns,” explains Teri Coha, Advanced Practice Nurse in the Division of Pediatric Surgery at Lurie Children’s and a certified Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurse.

According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, every day over 300 children aged 0 to 19 are treated in emergency rooms for burn-related injuries and, on average, two children die each day as a result of being burned.  For the younger children, 9 times out of 10 their burn injuries are scald burns caused by hot liquids or steam.

Kate Walsh, APN,  Division of Pediatric Surgery and also wound certified, recalls a patient she treated, “The child, who was only about 11 or 12 years old at the time, had spilled hot soup all over his foot. When I tried to take off his sock and shoe to further evaluate and treat the burn, the sock was stuck to the patient’s skin.”

To prevent these types of burns from occurring in the future, Teri Coha has a few simple tips:

  1. Do not allow school aged children to remove hot liquids from a microwave without adult supervision.
  2. Teach your children how to use oven mitts to safely remove hot liquids from the microwave.
  3. Allow items to sit for a minute after heating, as the steam from the product can easily burn little hands and fingers.
  4. Make sure the food is stirred properly and the temperature tested before eating, as microwaves heat unevenly.

“Microwaves serve a purpose to cook and heat food quickly, and are a great family resource, but it’s important to remember to handle that food properly when removing it to prevent these terrible burns from occurring,” Teri explains.

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