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​​Winter Wise Safety Tips

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During the winter season, serious burn injuries in the home are far more common than you think. By following these basic safety measures, you and those you love can stay safe.

In your kitchen

  • When working with hot foods, be sure the cooking area is free of obstacles and distractions.
  • Use oven mitts when handling hot pots, pans and baking sheets.
  • Turn all pot handles toward the middle of the stove to avoid spills.
  • Always have a plan for where you can safely place a hot item from your stove or oven.
  • Test the temperature of any hot beverage before serving, especially when children are involved.
  • Grease fires are especially dangerous, so smart cooks know to keep a small fire extinguisher handy in their kitchens.
  • If a grease fire occurs, turn off the heat source.
  • If the fire is contained to a pan or pot, quickly cover it with a lid or cookie sheet.
  • NEVER attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water or beat it with a towel!
  • If the grease fire is not contained to a pot, a chemical fire extinguisher can be used.
  • If you are unable to quickly and safely extinguish the fire, evacuate and call 911.

In your home

Extra precautions are needed when using a space heater or fireplace, which are the source of nearly half of all burn injuries in the winter. Some of the most frequent causes of burns include falling face-first into space heater, sleeping too close to a heat source, touching the glass door of a fireplace, and fireplace explosions.

  • Give space heaters space! Keep anything that can burn — like clothing, furniture, or bedding — at least three feet from any heat source.
  • Avoid using electrical space heaters in bathrooms or other areas where they may come in contact with water.
  • Never use an oven or stovetop to heat your home.
  • Make a New Year’s resolution to change the batteries in your smoke detectors at least once a year — starting January 1.
  • Get your furnace inspected and cleaned annually.

Treating a burn injury

If a burn injury occurs, stop the burning process quickly by following these steps:

  • Remove any clothing or substance involved in the burn injury.
  • Cool the area immediately with cool water.
  • Do not apply ice, ointment or other home remedy.
  • Apply a dry dressing and get an immediate medical care evaluation.

As a comprehensive ABA (American Burn Association)-verified burn center, the UPMC Mercy Burn Center is a recognized leader in providing comprehensive, quality care for victims of severe burn injuries. To l​earn more about our burn and trauma services, and for other safety tips, visit the UPMC Mercy Trauma and Burn Center​​​.