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Every minute, one person is hurt somewhere in the US as a result of a fire. These injuries are a leading cause of unintentional death in the nation, with 3,390 deaths recorded in 2016, alone. That’s why, it’s important to learn the threats of burns, as well as ways to prevent them.

The American Burn Association has developed “National Burn Awareness Week” to raise awareness about the dangers of fire and burns and to provide life-safety education throughout the community. The campaign exists to raise recognition and increase knowledge on how burns can occur.  The hope is to help our community create safer homes through simple behavioral and environmental changes. Older adults, in particular, should be cognizant of how to protect their homes from unintentional fires.

“Prevention through education is the key.  As we age, it is important to stay vigilant when it comes to fire and burn prevention,” says Mercy Health Trauma and Burn Prevention Coordinator, Nicole Knepper, RN.

“We need to know what precautions to take to help keep our families and loved ones safe,” Nicole added. “It is vital to practice our fire escape plans. Arthritis and other mobility problems may make it more difficult to move quickly.  It is important to be familiar with your escape routes and always know two ways to exit a room.”

Nicole added that fire and burn prevention starts at home and offered these tips:

  • Avoid wearing long, flowing sleeves while cooking.
  • Use oven mitts, not towels, to handle pots and pans as it will greatly decrease your chances of having a kitchen fire or sustaining a burn.
  • Always take extreme caution when heating liquids in the microwave – burns often occur from spilling hot fluid onto the skin.
  • Always test bath water before getting in the tub.If you have diabetic neuropathy, you may not realize how hot the water is.Hot water heaters should be set no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • If you are on oxygen, do not smoke and keep at least five feet away from a fire source such as a candle or gas stove.

Nicole and Dennis Kookoothe, of Toledo Fire Prevention, will be hosting a Fire and Burn Presentation for Older Adults at the Mercy Health-Senior Wellness Center on Tuesday, February 6 at 2:30 p.m. Community members are encouraged to attend to learn more about fire and burn awareness, as well as participate in the national campaign.

Mercy Health – St. Vincent Medical Center offers the only unit in the area dedicated to patients suffering from burns. This burn unit, which offers specialty care, has been serving the Toledo area community for 50 years.