September 2, 2004
Ruth Rimmer often wondered how so many children coming to the Arizona Burn Center got their disfiguring injuries.
When the Mesa resident learned that nearly half of the youngsters were the victims of scalding accidents in the kitchen or bathroom, she became determined to prevent such injuries.
The result was a children’s book that teaches kids and their parents the dangers of scalds. A free copy of the book, titled "Bobby’s Unbelievable Bath Time!" is being given to all women who give birth at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix.
"It always amazes me that no one is aware that it’s an issue or a problem," said Rimmer, who is director of family service and research for the burn center at Maricopa Medical Center. "We’ve gotten the word out about drowning, but we haven’t gotten the word out about scalding."
Each year, more than 200 children come to the burn center with injuries so serious they need to be hospitalized. Of that number, more than 40 percent have been scalded at home by something hot, usually hot water, coffee, tea or soup. Among burned children age 5 and younger, 90 percent were scalded.
Tahlia Brookins was 10 months old when she pulled a pot of boiling water off the stove. The accident caused secondand third-degree burns on more than 40 percent of her body. Now 13 and a freshman at Moon Valley High School, Tahlia is still going through surgeries to help her scarred skin stretch as she grows. So far, she’s had more than 12 surgeries.
"It’s a huge issue with lifelong consequences," said Rimmer, who has done extensive research on the impact of burns on children. "Once it happens, it’s very hard to fix it. It’s not like breaking your arm."
Because burned skin does not regenerate, children will receive grafts of skin from other parts of their body, a procedure that creates more scarring. By learning ways to keep children safe from accidents in the kitchen and bathroom, families can save themselves the pain and grief of scald injuries, she said.
Preventing scalds in the kitchen
• Put young children in highchairs or play yards and keep them a safe distance from hot liquids, crockpots and frying pans.
• Do not allow child walkers to be used in the kitchen or bathroom.
• Cook on the back burners of the stove and turn pot handles inward.
• Never allow children to stand on a chair near the stove while you are cooking.
• Do not allow toddlers or older children to play in the kitchen.
• Do not drink hot coffee or tea with a young child in your lap.
• Keep children away when barbecuing outside. Preventing scalds in the bathroom:
• Keep water heaters at their lowest setting and never higher than 120 degrees.
• Test bath water with a thermometer before placing a child in the bath.
• When filling a bathtub, turn the cold water on first, then the hot. Reverse the order when turning faucets off.
• Do not allow children to play in the bathroom. Source: Ruth Rimmer
Buy the book
"Bobby’s Unbelievable Bath Time!" is available for $9.95 in English and Spanish, call (877) 201-9200 or visit www.booksbecause.com. For those who cannot afford the book, call Ruth Rimmer at (602) 344-5390.