Safety Update

Let’s take note of 2 consumer products with troubled safety records for children.

The first is instant soup/”ramen” noodle preparations for microwave ovens.  An 11 year study finds that 20% of all scald burn injuries presenting to the ER, 9500 children aged 4-12 each year, are caused by microwaved soup containers.  The peak age is 7 years; girls make up 57% of injuries.  Most burns occurred when the small package was opened after heating, spilling contents on the child, causing burns to the torso (40% of all injuries).  The added water can quickly overheat and when tipped over can cause a scald wound.  While most incidents result in only mild burns with full and uneventful recovery, still up to 10% were more severe, including those requiring scar management and skin grafting.  So prudence is still the order of the day.

The authors recommend that improved product design, like smaller opening and wider base, will help to limit risk here.  But, of course, there is no substitute for common sense: Don’t let younger children handle these products; close supervision for adolescents. Counsel them to focus on the task at hand–PUT THE DARN PHONE DOWN when using microwave and handling hot food.

The other warning references hover boards.  Between 2015-16 researchers report almost 27,000 youth injuries treated in US Emergency Departments.  As one might expect, boys predominate here (52%) wth peak incidence at age 12.  Most injuries involved the upper extremity(34%) with fractures making up 40% of those problems; head injuries were second  but the most common to result in hospitalization (14%). Burns from the board spontaneously catching fire was actually a rare occurrence.  A frequent risk factor was “multitasking” involving–you guessed it–the child trying to use a smart phone or listen to music while operating the hover board.  Wouldn’t it be at least a small  welcome change if reading a book while hover boarding caused some of this problem(sorry, couldn’t resist)?

One added comment: this same study reported >120,000 skateboard injuries in the ED over the same 2 year period; 75% of those among boys.  One word: HELMETS!!

Send along questions and comments, and thanks for following.