Hamad Trauma Center’s Hamad Injury Prevention Programme (HIPP) has issued a list of best practices that can help residents stay warm and safe during the cooler season.
“The additional means to stay warm at home and at bath time unfortunately may lead to a rise in the number of patients with injuries due to accidents with their heating system. These include scald injuries, electrical or contact burns, and even serious flame burns from house fires sustained while at home or in accommodations,” said Dr Rafael Consunji, director, HIPP, which is the community outreach arm of the Hamad Trauma Center.
Dr Consunji explained that electrical burns and fires are more likely to happen with the incorrect use of electrical appliances for heating, while scald burns most often happen when bathing or cooking with hot liquids. “Most victims of scald burns are the very young or the elderly, because they are unable to physically remove themselves from the scalding liquid’s path, and because their skin is much thinner and more sensitive to high temperatures. They can sustain severe scald burns within a few seconds,” he said.
The HIPP advises the public to buy electric or space heaters from reputable stores and ensure the product is ‘UL’ certified, or its equivalent. This will certify that the heater meets international standards for safety.
It has also cautioned that electric heaters must be plugged directly into a wall outlet as they are high-power devices. Plugging them into an extension cord, especially those with multiple outlets, can lead to an overload of the electrical system which can cause the fuse to blow or even the overheating and melting of devices or wiring and might in turn, lead to a house fire.
HIPP has also asked to position the heaters far away from flammable materials such as curtains, tablecloths, blankets and bedding. At least a 3ft or 1m distance is
Similarly, heaters also must be kept away from heavily trafficked zones or play areas and teach children to avoid them. Electric heaters can be a significant source of heat and can cause contact burns.
It is also important that automatic timers on heaters are working properly. Timers can help limit the duration that the unit is fully powered and reduce the risk of overheating and fire.
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