Accidents are inevitable; although, at times it can be prevented. One of the most preventable accident that causes damage to life and material possessions are caused by fire. Fire causes unexplainable physical injuries and the most affected are the elderly and infants who are dependent on parents/caregivers. Burns to elders and infants can not only be caused by fire but they are also prone to burns caused by heat, cold, chemicals radiation, and electricity.

Infants are the most vulnerable since they are dependent on elders for basic necessities of life when compared to elders. They haven’t yet reached the stage in life for them to understand the dangers of fire even when taught. Hence parents/guardians need to take special care when handling an infant.

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We believe that no one can tolerate a kid being burnt but infants being innocent and naïve they are inquisitive about their surroundings. As they grow older start crawling they try to explore things around them often ending up getting burnt due to hot beverages or hot water and though parents/guardians take all safety measures to prevent an infant from getting hurt, accidents still happen. Hence it is essential that parents baby proof their surroundings.

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Even events such as charging a phone near an infant can prove to be dangerous; as kids become aware of their surrounding and become curious about things around them. They sometimes put things in their mouth or touch things which are dangerous. Take no chances around infants as anything and everything can harm an infant if care is not taken.

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Knowing why and how first aid needs to be practised, it can prevent further damage as most common burns in infants are only scald burns. Since the skin of a newborn is ultra- thin and is prone to rashes and other skin ailments, even a small burn can cause great discomfort in infants as the skin is ten times more sensitive than in young adults and it would also take a longer time to heal. It could also result in other medical conditions such as fever, loss of appetite and dehydration.

First-time parents/guardians need to know basic safety measures around infants.

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Moving on to elders, they are as vulnerable as infants; the only difference being that they are able to understand the dangers of fire but due to old age ailments/medication and limitations in movements, they are unable to protect themselves. Burn incidents are unpredictable. Hence installing smoke sensor is a must especially if an elderly is staying alone as they tend to forget to turn off electrical applications/stoves often. Caregivers/Children of elders need to take up the responsibility to make necessary arrangements to ensure the safety of an elder as most elders who live alone are exposed to the dangers of a fire accident.

Home healthcare - Hispanic nurse at home of senior man (60s) using walker.

Reasons elders are prone to accidents

  • Elders are at high risk for thermal injury since they have a much thinner dermal layer on their skin such as it increases the propensity for deeper burn injury.
  • Elderly are often diagnosed with knee ailments and find it difficult to move around like young adults, which make it difficult for them to escape during a fire accident.
  • The immune system weakens in older people making them more vulnerable to infection and infectious diseases
  • The reflexes of older adults are slow and hence limit their reactions. Their slow reflexes can stop them to act and remove their hand or leg from the source of burn faster.

With all this said utmost care like Fire awareness campaigns conducted at schools/workplaces and residential apartments can help.

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