After falls, the most serious hazard of winter is burns. Burns, scalds and explosions take the lives of 6,000 men, women and children every year. More people, according to a recent study, are burned to death in their homes than anywhere else. Nineteen kinds of fires are described and 11 occur most frequently in homes.
The causes of fatal or injurious fires, according to “Hygeia,” the Health Magazine, are as follows:
1. Children playing with matches.
2. Gasoline used for cleaning.
3. Clothing ignited from stoves.
4. Clothing ignited otherwise.
5. Gasoline used to start a fire.
6. Inflammable liquids or vapors.
7. Kerosene used to start a fire.
8. Lamps or stoves.
9. Asphyxiation by smoke or suffocation.
10. Being trapped in burning buildings.
11. Firecrackers and fireworks.
Of these it can be seen most of them are particularly likely to occur in the winter.
Children are much more prone to fatal burns than adults. In 1929 31 per cent of all victims from burns were children under five years of age, and 14 per cent were between 5 and 14 years of age.
Matches, naturally, should be kept away from children. Children who have on nightgowns or flimsy clothing material are likely to be burned by proximity to an open gas heater. Children are liable to come into the kitchen and try to lift a kettle from the stove and spill scalding water on themselves.
The amount of carelessness exhibited in the disposal of cigarets and cigar stubs and matches used to light them is unbelievable. I have heard the advice given to smokers in bed that they may be so green they won’t burn, but the bed isn’t. Cigarets are put down on a pile of magazines, newspapers, or books, or ashes are flipped into a waste basket, and the result may be a serious or even fatal burn.
The emergency treatment of burns is not particularly important beyond stopping the fire of the burning clothing. This, of course, should be done by throwing a blanket or an overcoat, or if these are not available, your arms and own body around the victim, or putting the victim down on the ground and having him roll until the fire is out.
All burns are sufficiently serious to require medical attention. The habit of slapping kitchen lard or other grease on burns is not a good one, as infection is extremely likely to take place. If there is a long wait involved before the doctor comes, as clean a grease as possible should be put on the burned part, and will usually stop the worst of the pain. Vaseline or other ointment out of a jar or tube is preferable to kitchen greases, for they are less liable to be contaminated with germs and, therefore, less likely to cause infection.