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‘Watch what you heat,’ cautions Parkland burn center staff

Special to The Dallas Examiner | 2/11/2019, 1:15 p.m.
Annette Johnson knows all too well what it feels like to receive a call that her two youngest children have ...
Boiling pan Stock photo

Special to The Dallas Examiner

Annette Johnson knows all too well what it feels like to receive a call that her two youngest children have been burned in a kitchen accident and were on their way to Parkland Memorial Hospital’s Regional Burn Center. As she raced toward the hospital, a myriad of thoughts flooded her mind, and she was in full-blown panic mode.

“There was a pot with hot grease that caught fire. My teenage son’s first thought was to get the pot outside so the house wouldn’t catch fire,” Johnson said. “But because there were a lot of dry leaves in the backyard, he was afraid if he took the grease out there the leaves might catch fire.”

Anxious to rid the house of the flaming grease, he hurriedly carried the pot through the living room to the front door. In the living room he accidentally tripped over his younger siblings – ages 10 and 5 – who were seated on the floor coloring. Hot grease splashed on their faces, shoulders and arms.

“It was scary, emotional and a tragedy for all of us,” Johnson said. “But we are incredibly fortunate that we had a lot of support from our family, their school and Parkland.”

Although the youngsters continue to recover and are receiving outpatient wound care, Johnson – name changed to protect her identity – said they are now running around again and acting like “normal” children.

Preventing grease fires is one of the topics Parkland’s Burn Center staff will address at its annual Burn Prevention and Fire Safety Fair held Feb. 8 from 9 a.m. to noon at Parkland’s deHaro-Saldivar Health Center, located at 1400 N. Westmoreland Road. The fair, which is free and open to the public, will be held during Burn Awareness Week – Feb. 3-9.

“Hot grease or oil burns account for 7.3 percent of our total admissions and 24 percent of our scald burn admissions last year,” said Stephanie Campbell, MS, RN, CCRN-K, burn program manager, Parkland Regional Burn Center. “Twenty percent of those who were admitted were kids; the majority was adults of all ages.”

Campbell said that while most of the children who were burned were toddlers who pulled down pans of hot grease, there were cases of hot grease accidentally spilled on children who were “underfoot.” As for adults, the majority accidentally spilled hot grease on themselves or were burned attempting to put out a grease fire.

To lessen the chance for grease burns, Campbell offered the following tips for cooking dishes that require grease or hot oil:

• Never leave hot grease or oil unattended while cooking.

• Bring grease or oil up to the desired temperature slowly, then add the food gently.

• Keep stove area free of things that could catch fire, like potholders and food packages.

• Keep hot grease out of reach from young children.

– Use the back burners.

– Turn pot handles to the back.

– Keep any containers with hot grease or oil away from the edges of countertops or tables.

– Create a 3-foot “No Kid Zone” around your stove and never attempt to transfer grease or oil with children in the kitchen.

Should a grease fire ignite, the National Fire Prevention Association suggests:

• Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.

• Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.

• If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.

• Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

• For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

For information about services available at Parkland, visit http://www.parklandhospital.com.