Protecting kids from some risks is a responsibility we can share

The Gas Appliance Manufacturers Assn’s (GAMA) Water Heater Div is sponsoring a campaign to increase consumer awareness about child safety in relation to hot water scalding and burns from flammable liquids, such as gasoline. Every year, more than 4,000 children are scalded by tap water. Burns are the third highest cause of accidental death for US children. The GAMA campaign includes tips to help parents prevent scald burns, such as changing twin-handle faucets to single-control faucets and making sure water heater thermostats are set no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. GAMA offers pamphlets on both hot water and flammable liquid safety.

Have you ever seen a child who’s been badly burned, even years before? The pain and scarring mark him for life as the victim of a tragedy that probably could have been prevented. That’s the truly sad part. No matter how improbable the circumstances, they could have been prevented and a child spared the kind of suffering that none of use even wants to imagine.

Somebody should do something, and someone is. For the second year, the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association’s Water Heater Division is helping to sponsor a consumer safety awareness campaign that emphasizes child safety. Any tradesperson who enters homes and has access to children or their parents can help spread the word.

Two specific threats are being emphasized in this year’s SAFE KIDS Campaign — hot water scalds, and gasoline-related accidents. More than 80 national organizations and 160 local and state coalitions in 46 states and the District of Columbia are taking part.

Throughout June and July, spokesperson Meredith K. Appy, assistant vice president of public affairs and education at the National Fire Protection Association, will meet with various press in San Jose/San Francisco, Detroit, Boston, Houston, and Dallas.

Audio and video news releases will be sent to newsrooms nationally. The scald prevention video includes interviews with C. Everett Koop, M.D., former U.S. Surgeon General and chairman of the SAFE KIDS Campaign, and Marty Eichelberger, M.D., pediatric surgeon and president of the SAFE KIDS Campaign.

More than 4,000 children are scalded eacy year from tap water, and half are under five years of age. Deaths from scalds are most common in children four years old and younger. Burns are the third leading cause of accidental death among children in the U.S.

“The campaign will be focused on showing parents first how scald burns happen and how to prevent them,” said Kathryn Kincaid, acting executive director of the SAFE KIDS Campaign. Many tap water scald burns are worse than hot liquid spills. The burns are usually more severe and cover a larger portion of the body, since most tap water burns occur in the bathtub.

Scalds are the major cause of nonfatal burns listed in hospital discharge summaries and emergency room logs. Tap water scald burns are almost always associated with twin-handle faucets in the bathtub or sink.

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“Parents should consider changing any twin-handle faucets to single-control faucets, which can reduce the chance of scald burns,” said Kincaid. “In addition, there are anti-scald valves available that will automatically shut off hot water if it reaches a certain temperature.” Kincaid also advises homeowners to check their water heaters to make sure the thermostat is set at a maximum of 120 [degree] F.

GAMA is offering consumers a free pamphlet, “Hot Water Safety,” as well as a Family Safety Activity Kit. Call 800-GAMA-811 (800-426-2811.) But even scalding water cannot compare with another serious danger. According to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, fires, burn injuries, and death caused by the ignition of gasoline vapors dramatically increase between May and September.

Gasoline is one of the most flammable liquids because of its low flash point. Gasoline vapora are very heavy and can travel from room to room. If gasoline is being used on the first floor of a home, in moments the vapors can make their way to an ignition source in the basement, or to an attached garage. Other flammable liquids include paint remover, kerosene, lighter fluids, claining liquids, and even nail polish remover.

GAMA is offering free information, including a Marvel “Daredevil” comic book–rated “pretty cool” by the comic-reading kids we know — and a Home Activity Guide with warning stickers which can be placed on flammable liquids. You can’t protect kids from all the dangers they face in daily life, but some risks are so preventable that they cry out for our attention. Whenever you see the opportunity, remaind your customers that hot water scalds and gasoline burns are two accidents that need never occur.