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Prevent Burns in the Kitchen this Holiday Season

Posted by on 04 Dec, 2015

As sights and sounds of the season kick into high gear, so does the spreading of holiday cheer through the sharing of baked goods and tasty treats. Many holiday customs include the creation of delicious confections and traditional dishes and this means more time in the kitchen around heat elements where the risk of burns threatens to derail the fun. The most common burns occurring in the kitchen are from scalding and flame burns but through planning and preparedness, you should be able to prevent them. The following will provide you with some basics to set the tone for kitchen safety this holiday season.


Setting up your workspace appropriately before any cooking or baking will help eliminate accidents. When planning for your projects, have all tools and ingredients placed out ahead of time to avoid rushing around and frustration, which often leads to accidental burns. Also, be sure to remove unneeded clutter and objects from counter space so that transferring pots or pans to different parts of the kitchen is not troublesome. 

Avoid sharp, painful burns that occur from touching the oven rack, hot pans, casserole dishes, or the stovetop by utilizing pot holders and silicon sleeves. Avoid the temptation to utilize a dishtowel as they are not designed to protect your skin from burns. Pot holders and silicon sleeves or gloves are specifically made with insulated materials to protect you. Before baking or cooking, set out your pot holders, trivets, and silicon sleeves so they are easily within reach as you need them. 

To prevent hot food or liquid spills, always turn pan handles away from the edge and out of the way of kitchen traffic flow. If handles are sticking outward, chances of an accident are increased. Use back burners instead of front burners so that reaching across hot elements can be avoided.

Most importantly, keep a fire extinguisher nearby for quick response in the event of a fire.

While accidents can happen in even the safest of kitchens, it's important to understand the classification of the three levels of burns so they can be treated quickly and properly.


  • Superficial (First-Degree)
    First-degree burns are superficial burns because they affect the outermost layer of skin called the epidermis. The signs of this type of burn include redness, swelling, pain, and skin that peels while the wound is healing. With simple first-aid measures, a superficial burn should heal within a week.  Professional medical attention is not necessary unless the burn covers a large area or is on your face or a joint. This type of wound should be soaked in cool water for at least 5 minutes and then aloe vera can be applied to sooth the skin. If pain persists, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be taken for relief. An antibiotic ointment should be applied and the burn should be covered loosely for protection. 
  • Partial Thickness (Second-Degree)
    Second-degree burns are more serious because they affect both the epidermis and the second layer of skin, the dermis. The damage is more extensive and can cause the skin to blister and become extremely red and sore. The skin may become white or discolored and may appear wet and shiny. Healing can take from 2 to 3 weeks time. Immediately after the injury, the burn should be placed under cool water for 15 minutes.  Again, acetaminophen and ibuprofen can be used for pain.  Since second-degree burns are more sensitive, they should be wrapped continuously with frequent dressing changes to protect from infection.
  • Full Thickness (Third-Degree)
    A third-degree burn involves the top layer of skin (epidermis), the second layer of skin (dermis), and the fatty tissue under the skin (subcutaneous tissue), and spreads into muscle tissue. The appearance is waxy and white, charred, dark and leathery. While it would seem a third-degree burn would be the most painful, there may, in fact, be no pain due to the injury of nerves.  These burns carry the most risk of complications. Medical treatment should be sought immediately for this level of burn.

If you or a loved one has experienced a burn and you're unsure of how to care for it, receive immediate professional treatment at any Urgent Clinics Medical Care location in the Houston area including Pearland, Champions, The Woodlands and 3 locations in League City: Creekside, Marina Bay, and Tuscan Lakes. Our providers are available extended hours and on the weekends, and are equipped to give expert medical care for first and second-degree burns. If you are certain of a third-degree burn, dial 911 or rush to an emergency room immediately.




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