Special Report: Burning Issue

TYLER (KYTX) - Bath time and cooking in the kitchen are quality time for a lot of parents and kids, but they can also be dangerous times. Every year nearly 61,000 kids, under the age five, are treated for scalds and burns they got at home. In a CBS 19 Special Report, Amanda Roberson explains how to keep your kids safe and what to do if a child is burned.

Only about three percent of the traffic that comes through emergency rooms in East Texas is related to burns and only a small portion of those patients are children. But surgeons say even that low number can end in tragedy. Protecting children... It's a "burning issue".

"It hurts right there. Momma burned her arm," explained three year old Evan Loghry. He had a near miss with a hot pan, but his mom Jessica took the burn for him. 

"I didn't burn my arm," Evan added. 

In fact, neither Evan nor his two year old brother Seth have ever been burned.

"I think I'm really paranoid," the boys mother Jessica explained. "I have the water heater child-proofed. I have it turned down low enough to where if they get the water all the way hot it's going to be uncomfortable but it's not going to hurt them."

Jessica's a single mom and takes every step she can to keep her kids burn free. They're not allowed in the kitchen while she cooks and sunscreen is the rule outdoors.

"This one [Seth] is so pale," said Jessica. "I'm so afraid and I don't, sunscreen I apply it like every five minutes it seems if I have him outside at all because he just gets so red so fast."

"Sunlight's great and we need it because in order to develop vitamin D we have to have that interaction with the skin. What you don't need is burns," added Trinity Mother Frances head of trauma, Dr. Luis Fernandez.

He said parents need to be sensitive to heat because of their kids sensitive skin. "On the extremes of ages very old and very young the skin begins to thin out. It starts thin and then ends up thin, and so what could be a second degree burn for you and I could actually be a third degree burn on those two extremes of ages, particularly in children and toddlers."

First, second, third degree burns, what does it all mean? Think of it like this: first degree burns are sunburns, red and painful. With second degree burns the skin bubbles and blisters causing even more pain. Third degree burns look like leather, the skin is charred and so are the nerves so you don't feel much if anything. And, severe, fourth degree burns go to the bone killing everything and leaving you feeling nothing.

"That's not a good thing," said Dr. Fernandez. "When I walk into a trauma vane and I see a patient screaming in agony from a burn, his odds of survival are great."

But even the most minor burns come with consequences, like the increasing chance of skin cancer.

"When you burn the skin, skin is basically protein, it shrinks. It becomes less elastic so you have limitations in functionality. On top of that you have cosmetic defects," Dr. Fernandez explained.

"Burns are pretty permanent, especially for a young kid," said Jessica.

Permanent on the body and mind. And for Evan, it's a burning issue he said he wants no part of. "No I don't want one."

So what if your kid does get burned? A lot of people think cool water or a package of frozen peas is the way to go, but doctors said don't do it.

First, safely remove your child, or whoever it is, from the burn environment. Then doctors said call 9-1-1. Professional help is always best. And third, again, don't apply anything cold to the skin.  Doctors said adding the shock of cold to a burn zaps the burn victim's natural body heat taking away their ability to create enzymes that can fight off infection.

Experts say talk to your kids at a young age about the dangers of heat. For suggestions to get the conversation started, click here.


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