Burns and its Prevention

Burns is preventable in most cases. Many developing countries seem to concentrate more on therapy than on prevention. Education is the main plank of burn prevention.

This includes making children and parents realize the danger of careless handling of fire and fire-causing materials like matches. In many homes flame cooking, often without guard,
is commonplace, and such cooking is done at floor level. These situations encourage burn accidents. Cooking should be at a higher level where the children cannot easily reach, and the position of the fire should be such that it cannot be easily overturned. Cooking should be done with utensils that can be easily handled and not with “handless” pots. The handles must be made of materials that are poor conductors of heat. These pots should have reasonably stable covers.

Houses should be better designed. They should have a kitchen in the leeward direction and be roofed and ceiled with materials that do not burn readily. They must be well-planned
and ventilated and overcrowding must not be allowed.

Epileptics, children and the infirm must not be left alone near open fire. Care must be taken in the storage and use of kerosene and gas. Hot cooking stoves must be cooled before refilling.

Petrol should not be stored in the house and no open flames should be present when petrol and such inflammable fluids are exposed as in petrol filling stations. Torch light is much
preferred if such filling is done at night in areas where there is no electricity.

Matches must not be used to look for gas leaks as explosions may result. These matches must not be carelessly left where children can get hold of them.

When frying pan catches fire, it should be smothered and not pushed under the tap or through open windows.

Candles must be put out before sleeping and not forgetfully left on or near beds or clothing materials like curtains. Similar careful treatment must be employed for mosquito coils.

Developing countries must not allow the importation or production of extremely inflammable clothing materials; education of rural people during rural electrification and the use of adequately trained technicians in electrical wiring and repair of electrical equipments are essential.

During thunderstorms, people must not stand under tall trees in open places – they must stay indoors.

Burns have certainly assumed epidemic proportions and strict adherence to these rules will lessen this hazard. Propaganda to spread knowledge of how to prevent burns should
take place as part of health education programmes on radio and television.

In some countries, children’s interest in this
problem is stimulated by organizing quiz and competitions on fire prevention among school children.

Furthermore, the formation of societies for the prevention of burns will go a long way in spreading the knowledge of prevetion and the
problems of treatment of burns. Such societies should include not only doctors, nurses and industrialists, but anyone concerned about the prevalence and prevention of burns.

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In industry, it is the responsibility of industrial safety officers to see that standard procedures are adhered to and preventive measures undertaken. Such measures should also
exist in cinemas, halls and other places of entertainment where large numbers of people may congregate. In many big plants, a fire drill on what to do in a major fire outbreak is often practised. People should be taught the use of fire extinguishers.

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