In the spirit of Burns Awareness Month, observed annually in May, South Africans are once again being cautioned to take extra care this winter as many turn to gas and paraffin heaters to keep warm, which in some cases lead to serious burn-related injuries.
“Thermal or heat related injuries are largely preventable but are a major problem in South Africa,” says Dr Iqbal Karbanee, paediatrician and CEO of Paed-IQ BabyLine. Babyline, a first-of-its kind service in South Africa that offers telephonic-based triage care, has helped to safeguard the health of over 10 000 children.
“The major causes of thermal injury are either because of accidents involving paraffin or hot water and liquids in the home, all which are sclding. Burns can also occur from electrical sources such as faulty switches and plugs or exposed cables,” adds Dr Karbanee.
Children in particular, says Karbanee, are vulnerable to burn injuries at home because they do not have the insight into potential sources of danger.
“Children are by nature inquisitive and experimental. The toddler or pre-schooler who is mobile and confined in a small space in cold weather is at very high risk for thermal injury,” he says.
He adds parents should take care in identifying potential sources of thermal danger at home, and be extra vigilant with indoor fireplaces, where little hands may want to touch hot doors and handles, or play with flames.