With stress at high levels during the hectic holiday season, kitchen burn wounds can be more common.

The winter holiday season can be hectic, especially for those individuals who are preparing most of the main meal. With stress at high levels, accidents, particularly burn wounds, in the kitchen can be more common. With approximately 40,000 people being hospitalized each year for burn injuries, and about half of these occurring in the home, it’s important to take certain steps to prevent any holiday trips to the emergency room:

Know your surroundings

Although most cooks know their way around the kitchen, it can be easy to forget a few dishes or accidentally place an arm or hand on a hot surface with several recipes going at once. Steam, hot liquids and hot objects are some of the most common sources of burns, which can be easy to overlook.

Cooks should be sure to keep most family and friends out of the kitchen, or warn those who come in to help which items need to be handled with care.

“Scalding is very common in general but highly common in pediatric and elderly patients,” explained Dr. Jenny Ziembicki of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Mercy Center Burn Center to the Uniontown area news source the Herald Standard.

Help yourself out

To keep things from overheating, you can set up your kitchen to help yourself out.

If you have control over your hot water heater, set it to a maximum of 120 degrees. This will help prevent scalding burns from faucets, yet will also allow you to get water that is hot enough for washing and cooking.
Check the batteries of your fire alarm, and make sure you have an alarm in the kitchen. This may help keep you aware of your surroundings if the fire alarm does go off, and to handle burnt (and likely very hot) food more carefully.
Have at least three kitchen timers on hand for big meals – this will allow you to keep track of a few different items, giving you time to focus on other tasks while dishes cook in crock pots and in the oven.

First aid for kitchen burns

If a burn does occur, first aid should be administered. If the burn is bad enough, seek medical advice at a local clinic.

If the burned area has clothing over it, remove the clothing article, especially if it is wet.
Cool the burn slowly under running water. Do not use ice, as it will often be too cold and may stop blood flow to the affected area.
Salves should not be applied to scalding wounds. Be sure to ask medical personnel on the best possible wound care for you or your family member’s particular burn.