Moves in Medicine: Preventing burns from kitchen accidents and house fires

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- With the holidays here and heaters on, the risk for burn injuries goes up. According to experts, there are three times as many cooking fires on Thanksgiving as any other day.

Sharon Hopkins was cooking when oil in a pot started to overheat.

"I happened to pick the pot up, and you know, it just, 'Phew!' All over my hand," she said.

Hopkins knew it was a serious injury.

"My hand turned dark right there," she said.

At the hospital, she learned she had first, second and third-degree burns.

Dr. Lisa Rae, of the Temple Burn Center, says the majority of burns and house fires occur around the kitchen.

According to Rae, grease burns are significantly worse.
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"It boils at 400 to 600 degrees Celsius. Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius," she said.

The first aid for any burn is cooling it with room temperature tap water, not ice.

"Ice actually makes some of the tissue death worse because it restricts blood flow and your body's trying to get blood flow to help heal that tissue," Rae said.

She recommends not using any home remedies, including butter, vinegar, cold meat or onion juice. They can do more harm than good.

Rae says getting medical attention, even a visit to the emergency room the first day is a good idea, especially if the skin blisters.

"They can help you with pain management. They can help you with initial wound care to really help promote healing," she said.

Large burns, even superficial ones, especially need the care to prevent internal organ damage.

Hopkins is glad she went to the hospital.

"I could have wound up losing my hand," she said.
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