Burns and Poisoning

 

Burns

 

A child may get accidentally burnt due to exposure to fire, hot metal, boiling water, milk or oil or contact with faulty electrical appliances or exposed electric wires. Firecrackers during Diwali and on other festive occasions are also responsible for causing serious burn injuries to a large number of children every year.

 

What to Do

 

●      Move the child away from the source of injury. If his clothes have caught have caught fire, make him lie down on the floor and pour water over him to put out the flames. If water is not immediately available, smother the flames by wrapping a blanket, rug or coat around him.

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●      The burnt area should be cooled don quickly to reduce further damage by heat. Hands, arms, legs and feet affected by burns can be immersed in a bucket of cold water or placed under running cold water. Ice cubes in a plastic bag can be applied locally to cool a small area of burn on the face, neck or elsewhere over his body. The cooling should be continued for 10-15 minutes or as long as the child can tolerate it. It would be better to do it for a longer period so that the skin and the deeper tissues get cooled down sufficiently to escape damage by heat. Avoid cooling with ice-cold ware over a wide area as it may harm the small child by lowering his body temperature too much.

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●      Do not try to take off his clothes or anything else which may be sticking to the wound.

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●      If the child has got burnt by some boiling fluid or chemical, you should carefully remove or cut away the soiled clothing.

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●      Cover the burnt area with a sterile non-fluffy dressing or a clean handkerchief or sheet to prevent infection. Do not use ordinary absorbent cotton as it may get stuck to the burn area.

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●      Do not apply oil, butter, ink, mustard oil, cream or ointment.

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●      Do not prick the blisters. The wound is then more likely to get infected.

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●      You may give your child a dose of paracetamol syrup or tablet as recommended for his age to relieve the pain.

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●      If the burn is more than a small, superficial burn consult your doctor. Always consult the doctor for electrical burns and for burns on the face, even if these appear to be small and superficial.

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●      Poisoning

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●      Toddlers and young children are very liable to swallow poisonous substances because of their restlessness, their intense curiosity, a desire to put everything into their mouth and a strong urge to imitate adults. Parents contribute to the danger by neglecting to provide proper storage of potentially harmful household substances, like kerosene oil or napthalene balls and medicines meant for adults.

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●      Common Poisons Ingested

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●      The common poisons and harmful substances which are accidently swallowed by children include.

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○      Kerosene oil. The child generally drinks it mistaking it for water;

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○      Weed-killer tablets and pesticides;

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○      Corrosives like sulfuric acid used for cleaning floors;

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○      Napthalene balls;

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○      Sleeping pills and other medicines; and

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○      Poisonous berries or other plants, e.g., dhatura, opium, or wild mushroom.

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○      Corrosives like sulfuric acid and caustic soda cause a burning sensation, serve pain and blisters in the child’s mouth and the food pipe immediately after being swallowed. On the other hand, a child may not have any immediate symptoms on swallowing some pills or other poisonous substances, like naphthalene balls, but these can be very dangerous for him over a longer period.

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●      What to Do

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○      Try to quickly locate the suspected poisonous substance the child has actually taken. Pick up and preserve carefully any remaining portion of the swallowed substance for identification and for informing the doctor. Get an idea of the probable amount of substance swallowed by the child.

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○      It is best to take the child to the casualty department of the nearest hospital as soon as you can.

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○      Do not waste much time in trying to make the child vomit. Do not give him too much salt and water to induce vomiting. Large amounts of salt can harm him.

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○      Never try to produce vomiting in a child who has taken kerosene oil, a strong acid or alkali like sulfuric acid and caustic soda. It can cause serious damage to his lungs and the linings of his stomach and food pipe.

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○      If he has a burning sensation and pain in the mouth due to the strong acid or alkali, give him sips of cold milk and water to drink. It will reduce the pain.

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Most important, get the child to hospital quickly.