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Preventing burn injuries in your home and when to seek care

Director of the Evans-Haynes Burn Center at VCU Health shares safety tips to protect against burn injuries.

A child's hand reaches across an active hot stove top. Flame and scald burns are typically treated at the Evans-Haynes Burn Center at VCU Health, with cooking injuries being fairly common. (Getty Images)

By Sara McCloskey

From hot drinks to open flames, people can be burned by a wide variety of things at home.
About 650 patients are treated by experts at the Evans-Haynes Burn Center at VCU Health each year. It’s the only burn center in the commonwealth of Virginia verified by the American Burn Association (ABA) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS), caring for patients in our community for 75 years. “Keep in mind that even very small burn injuries can cause large problems,” said Michael Feldman, M.D., director of the Evans-Haynes Burn Center. “We want to make sure that people seek care for any burn injury that causes blistering.” As part of National Burn Awareness Week, VCU Health News spoke with Feldman to learn how you can prevent burn injuries.

What are the most common types of burns you see when treating patients?

We most commonly treat flame and scald burns at our burn center. Cooking injuries are common unfortunately.

We recommend that people avoid leaving the kitchen while food is cooking or being prepared to cook. Oftentimes, fires break out while the stove or oven is unattended. Make sure you point handles inward on the stove top. It’s important to remember that hot liquids can also burn you like a fire.

Keep children and animals out of the kitchen while cooking and have a fire extinguisher available at all times. Keep a cover for your pans and use this in addition to turning off the heat source if grease catches on fire – and avoid putting water on a grease fire.

How can an individual tell if a burn is serious enough to go to urgent care?

Any burns that blister need attention by a medical professional. Burn injuries that go around the entire limb or finger can cut off blood supply and need urgent attention. And any burn that crosses a joint needs to be managed by a trained burn provider.

In general, we recommend having a low threshold to seek burn care, as the earlier people get their burns treated, the better they heal.

What does treatment look like for patients with severe enough cases to come to the Evans-Haynes Burn Center? Depending on severity, how long can recovery be?

Treatment varies for all of our patients. In general, we work hard to optimize healing. This may include wound care, pain control, therapy to improve mobility to name a few modalities.

The Evan-Haynes Burn Center is the only nationally verified burn center in the commonwealth of Virginia. This means that we have all of the resources and knowledge to treat your burn injury.