With Burn Awareness Week scheduled for February 5th through the 11th, now is the time to start thinking more about how to protect your senior loved one against being burned around the household.
Burns are very common accidents that occur in any household, but most of those incidents could be prevented by taking a little extra care and by being aware of the situation.
Burns can be minor or major, and there is actually an established scale that indicates the severity of any burn you might get. A first-degree burn is the least serious since it involves making the skin turn red, without causing blisters. At the other end of the scale are fourth-degree burns, and these typically involve burns that are deep enough to cause significant damage to the skin, tendons, and even bones. Generally speaking, the severity of any burn will be a result of how hot the surface was, and how long your body was in contact with that hot surface. In this article, we’ll discuss some ways that you can reduce the likelihood of your senior parent being burned around the household.
Reducing burn risks
There are lots of steps you can take which can reduce the likelihood of having your senior loved one suffer a burn injury around the household. In some cases, any safeguards you choose to implement might depend on how physically and mentally capable your senior parents are. As an example, it might be necessary for you to be physically present when your parent is showering or bathing, so as to ensure they don’t get scalded by hot water. It will be necessary for you to be aware of how closely you need to supervise your parent in order to keep them safe. When your senior parent is cognizant and physically capable, it might just be that an occasional reminder will suffice. In other situations, it might be necessary for you to keep a very close eye on your parent because they’re not as aware of their surroundings as they should be.
Tips on avoiding burns
Here are some of the things you can do to prevent your senior loved one from suffering a severe burn:
- make sure your senior loved one doesn’t wear clothing that’s loose-fitting anywhere around your stove
- maintain functional fire extinguishers around fireplaces, stoves, and other areas in the household where the risk of fire might happen
- have smoke alarms installed in every room of your house
- reduce the likelihood of a hot water burn by maintaining household water temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit
- avoid the risk of a hot-water spike by communicating to family members that they should not flush the toilet while your parent is bathing or showering
- store chemicals and household cleaning products in a cabinet that can be locked
- put candles in holders that won’t tip over, and make sure they’re a safe distance from anything which might be flammable
- ensure that space heaters are kept away from all flammable materials
- try to purchase a space heater that shuts off automatically when it gets tipped over
- purchase electric blankets or heating pads equipped with timers that will automatically shut them off
- make sure there are pot holders or oven mitts available when you have hot pots or pans on the stove
- keep pot handles turned to one side, so they can’t be knocked over by your senior parent
- install a humidifier that produces a cool mist instead of heated steam
- when you’re cooking with pots, make sure that they have lids that vent the steam away from the contents
- make sure that your senior parent understands they should not remove the cover on a hot pot until all the steam has dissipated.
Despite your best efforts and your most watchful oversight, it’s still possible that your senior parent could suffer some kind of burn in the household. If that does happen, you should immediately rinse the burn in cool water or apply some kind of cool lotion to the affected area. You should never apply ice water, butter, ice packs, or any other kind of products to the burned area because almost all of these will only make the situation worse.
You should also resist the temptation to pop any blisters which may have formed because that won’t do anything positive to improve the situation either. If the burn has occurred in an area that might swell, make sure that all jewelry is removed from those areas, so they don’t become uncomfortably tight. The burned area should be covered with some kind of a cooling lotion or an antibiotic lotion, and then a sterile bandage. If necessary, some kind of over-the-counter product can be purchased for your senior parents, so the discomfort can be lessened.