As a North Carolina woman has made headlines for her arrest following the reportedly intentional burning of a 3-month-old infant for whom she was caring, our Charlotte personal injury lawyers know that most burns, while preventable, happen as a result of negligence, not abuse.
In this case, the 19-year-old suspect has been charged with intentional child abuse caused by serious bodily injury after the child was found to have suffered serious burns caused by scalding hot water on 8 percent of his lower body.
Coincidentally, the incident occurred during National Burn Awareness Week, in which scalding was made a primary focus by the American Burn Association. This is a serious criminal matter, but most child burns are caused by accident, though they are almost always entirely preventable.
According to the ABA’s 2011 fact sheet, approximately 450,000 burn injuries required medical treatment, with about 45,000 of those requiring in-patient hospitalization. An estimated 3,500 people in the U.S. were killed that year as a result of burn injuries, mostly from residential house fires. The rest were a result of contact with chemicals, electricity or hot liquids.
With regard to the overall number of burns (not just those that resulted in fatalities), 70 percent occurred in the home and 33 percent were attributable to scalding. These incidents often stem from cooking, but they may also result from bath water that’s far too hot or a child pulling hot liquid off a surface down onto himself.
Taking care to implement certain safety measures around your home – especially if you have small children or occasionally host small children – can make all the difference.
The American Burn Association recommends heeding the following:
- Make sure the thermostat on your home water heaters is set at a maximum 120 degrees. If you aren’t sure whether yours is set too high, allow the water to run for about five minutes on hot and then use a water or meat thermometer to test it. Make adjustments as necessary.
- Keep hot liquids, candles and appliances (and their cords) out of reach and away from surface edges where they could be easily pulled down by little hands.
- When filling up a bathtub for your child, run the cold water first, and then the hot. Turn the water off completely and mix the water thoroughly, checking the temperature as you do, before you place the child in it.
- If someone else in your home is showering, bathing or washing dishes, avoid flushing the toilet or running the washing machine.
- When you’re cooking, use the back burners and keep the handles of the pots turned toward the back.
- If you are supervising small children while cooking or doing dishes, set up a safe area in your line of sight and out of the path of hot surfaces and liquids.
- Never drink or carry a hot liquid while you’re holding or carrying a child. Kids can be quick and sudden movements can potentially result in the liquid spilling and causing a serious burn.
If your child has suffered a preventable burn while in someone else’s care, you may be entitled compensation to help you cover the cost of medical expenses and ongoing treatments.
Personal injury victims should contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
Raleigh woman accused of burning 3-month-old, Feb. 5, 2013, Staff Report, WRAL
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Fireworks Posing Serious Risks for Injury and Greensboro and Elsewhere Over Fourth, June 30, 2012, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog