Kansas toddler recovering from 98% burn injury due to scald

By Dan Wells – bio | email

CINCINNATI (FOX19) –  Every day, 300 young children with burn injuries are taken to emergency rooms. They haven't even been near a flame. The children are victims of scalds, and Owen, a 2-year-old boy from Lawrence, KS, is one of them.

October 3 is a day Owen Stokes' mother, Madeline, will never forget.

"We had just bought a large aquarium, so we had to clean it in the bath tub," said Madeline Stokes.

The aquarium fit awkwardly in the tub, but living on the 2nd floor of an apartment complex it was the only way they could manage. The aquarium started to fill and within seconds, Owen had walked into the bathroom and fell into the aquarium.

"It was so quick," said Ritchie, Madeline's boyfriend. "I slipped out of the room and before I knew it Owen had fallen in."

Ritchie rushed to pull Owen out, but he sustained was one of the largest burns Shriners Hospitals for Children - Cincinnati has ever seen.

Scald burns, which are caused by hot liquids, steam or foods, are the most common burn injury among young children and the leading cause of accidental death in the home for children under age four.

U.S. hospitals treat an estimated 16,000 children under five for scalds a year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"We just didn't have any idea how dangerous hot water could be to our little baby," said Madeline Stokes.

While Owen's injuries and the numbers are distressing, even more disturbing is the fact that many of these burns could have been prevented.

Shriners Hospitals for Children® Emphasizes Scald Burn Prevention During Burn Awareness 2010

How Scalds Happen

Ninety-five percent of scalds occur in residences. Scald burns are typically related to ordinary activities - bathing, cooking, and eating - and often happen to children because of a lapse in adult supervision or a lack of protective measures. Youngsters may not understand or even be aware of potential dangers of hot liquids (especially water) and foods; they simply trust adults to keep them safe.

In addition, young children have thinner skin that burns more quickly than adults'. People of all ages can be burned in 30 seconds by a flowing liquid that is 130 F; at 140 F, it takes only five seconds; at 160 F, it only takes one second. For children under five, these temperatures can cause a burn in half the time.

Preventing Scalds

According to some reports, most scalds occur while bathing. Continuous supervision of young children is the most important factor in preventing tap water scald injuries, but there are additional simple preventive measures that can be taken. These include:

· Lowering the temperature settings on water heater to 120 F

· Installing anti-scald devices on water faucets and showerheads

· When bathing a child, fill tub with cold water first and mix in warmer water

· Place children away from the faucet

· Test the bath water by moving hand rapidly through the water. If the water feels hot to an adult, it is too hot for a child

For information on obtaining free burn awareness materials, visit www.burnawarenessweek.org <http://www.burnawarenessweek.org/>.