Burn center sees spike in patients as people stay home


Burn Center RN offers advice on avoiding fires, accidents at home

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Burn Center is seeing an uptick in the number of burn patients. With parents and their children home from work and school, the kitchen can be a chaotic place.

There are some simple things families can do to prevent accidents, such as making the area surrounding the stove a “no kids zone,” and moving hot pots and pans to the back burner with the handle facing away from the edge when you’re cooking.

Registered Nurse Curtis Ryun with the Oregon Burn Center. April 17, 2020 (KOIN)

“We are seeing things that we normally see, but we are seeing a lot more of it,” said Registered Nurse Curtis Ryun. He serves at the outreach education coordinator for the Oregon Burn Center at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland. “It’s been an uptick in some of the burns that we’ve seen, with scalds, kitchen fire-type stuff with hot grease, hot oil.”

There a precautions to take beyond just in the kitchen, however, Ryun said they have also seen mishaps around the house.

“People who are crawling in their fire pits in their backyard because alcohol and fire does not mix,” said Ryun.

But most fires and burns happen in the kitchen, and with everyone spending more time at home, it’s important to keep an eye out for the little ones running around.

“One of the things people need to be aware of is about 100,000 kids each year are treated for burn or fire-related injuries. It really starts with being safe in the kitchen with our children,” said Stefan Myers, Public Information Officer with Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue. “I think it’s important for people to be aware that skin for a kid actually burns and is more sensitive than an adult, so things that we may be able to tolerate that are not that hot can actually cause a burn injury for a child.”

(KOIN File)

Some tips to keep kids safe at home: don’t let a child sit on the counter next to the stove, keep cords to electrical appliances out of grabbing reach, and don’t put hot objects on surfaces where a child could touch it. While some of these things may seem like common sense, they’re still good reminders as people adjust to being home more.

“People who aren’t used to cooking, or people who don’t know how to cook, who are learning how to cook and kids being underfoot — kids being in the house,” described Ryun. “We were expecting an uptick in burns and, low and behold, it has happened.”

As the only burn center in the state, Legacy Emanuel sees patients from all over Oregon, and the greater western region, including Alaska and Montana.

“We are the only burn center in the state, we are a regional burn center. When you are thinking where can I go if something happens, we are it,” said Ryun.

Now is also a good time to make sure your smoke alarms and your carbon monoxide detectors are in working order. Ryun also suggested keeping a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, and having a discussion with your family about what to do in the event of a fire — even practice the escape plan together.

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