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It's National Burn Awareness Week — a time to focus on how to prevent burn injuries

A steaming hot pot on a cooktop
A steaming hot pot on a cooktop

The medical director of the Mercy Burn Center in Springfield said many burn injuries are avoidable.

The focus of this year's National Burn Awareness Week is preventing burn injuries caused by flammable liquids like cooking oil and gasoline.

Dr. Krisi Causa, medical director of the Mercy Springfield Burn Center and a trauma, burn and general surgeon at Mercy, said many burn injuries are avoidable. One thing you can do is to make sure you have a safe cooking environment in your kitchen.

"Have it clean," she said. "Make sure your pots and pans are clean, lids are clean, that there's no residual oils on there that could ignite. In particular with little kids, having like a heat-free zone where kids can't cross a certain line in the kitchen."

The risk of burn injuries in home kitchens is especially high for children who might reach up and pull a pot off of the stove. Causa said even something as simple as heating ramen soup in a microwave can cause serious injuries to young people if they spill the contents on themselves while removing it.

"It may seem unnecessary to go through all these steps," she said, "but, like, dealing with those burns is way more prolonged than just saying, 'hey. Just stay out of the kitchen.' "

Causa said you should never use gasoline as an accelerant when burning brush or grilling – she’s seen injuries that have been caused by those things.

Fortunately, medical technology has advanced to more easily treat burn injuries, but it’s still a long painful recovery.

Causa said laser treatment can help with healing and can reduce scarring. Skin grafting has advanced over the years. Mercy uses Recell technology, which involves taking a postage stamp-sized sample of healthy skin, processing it and spraying it on mesh that's been placed over a wound.

"It's the patient's own skin cells that get sprayed across a bigger area," said Causa.

Recell allows doctors to harvest less skin, so there's less scarring, she said.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.