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Decking the Halls Safely During the Holidays
Stony Brook Burn Center Medical Director Shares Tips on Preventing Burns This Season
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STONY BROOK, NY, DECEMBER 12, 2014 – It’s the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ – but it is also one of the busiest times of year for the Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters Burn Center at Stony Brook University Hospital. As the holidays approach, doctors at the Burn Center are urging people to take extra precautions and to eliminate potential dangers that could lead to serious burn injuries. “Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, we see a significant increase in patients coming in with burns,” said Steven Sandoval, MD, Medical Director, Suffolk County Volunteer Firefighters Burn Center, Stony Brook University Hospital. “Holiday celebrations should be full of joy, but if not careful, could quickly turn tragic.” Dr. Sandoval says many of these burns and injuries can be preventable and shares some tips for a safe holiday season.  

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Dr. Sandoval

Meals and the holidays go hand and hand, but Dr. Sandoval says the Burn Center sees more and more cooking injuries each year. “People aren’t used to cooking such large meals on a regular basis,” says Dr. Sandoval. “Scalding is one of the number one burn injuries patients come in with; from large pots filled with boiling water, to boiling hot juices spilling out of meat pans, people need to take extra precautions in the kitchen.”

Some cooking safety tips:

  • Keep potholders, wooden utensils, towels, and food packaging away from the stovetop.
  • Deep-fried turkeys have become increasingly popular, but extreme caution should be exercised when choosing this method. Turkey fryers should be used outdoors and kept a safe distance away from homes and structures. Never leave the fryer unattended, and do not overfill it with oil.
  • Keep children away from chaffing dishes filled with hot water and gel fueled burners.
  • Take extra precautions when removing large dishes out of the oven; they are often heavier than we’re used to and can spill over burning hands, forearms or others.

Each year, Christmas trees are involved in hundreds of fires. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, Christmas tree fires are not common but are likely to be serious, resulting in deaths, injuries and property loss and damage.

  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for a “fire resistant” label.
  • Check for freshness when purchasing a live tree. A fresh tree is green, the needles are hard to pull, the trunk should be sticky with resin, and when hit, the tree should not lose many needles.
  • Heated rooms will dry live trees quickly, so keep the stand filled with water. A well-watered tree is usually safe, but dry trees can be ablaze in seconds.
  • Place trees away from fireplaces and radiators.

Other reminders to have a safe and prevent burns this Holiday season:

  • Do not burn wrapping paper in the fireplace, as it can ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
  • Never leave candles unattended, and place them away from trees and other decorations where they cannot be knocked over, and out of reach from children and pets.
  • Keep children away from fireplaces. Many families will place enclosures to keep children away, but those can heat up quickly and little hands can get burned if touched. 
  • Throughout the year, test smoke detector batteries and always have a fire extinguisher within easy reach.
  • Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
  • Blow out lit candles when you leave the room or go to bed.