MAYWOOD, IL – At a typical family gathering, 4-year-old Giuliana Maggio was playing hide-and-seek at a relative's house in downstate Illinois. A slow cooker on the table was simmering pork and the electrical cord stretched from the table to the wall. Giuliana accidentally ran through the electrical cord, pulling the scalding contents of the full pot down on her small body.
Dina Maggio, a registered nurse, immediately carried her daughter to the bathroom and put her in the shower. "As the cold water ran over her, and clothing was removed, I could see the layers of skin coming off and knew it was bad," said Mrs. Maggio.
The family called 911 and Giuliana was taken to a community hospital and then transferred to a St. Louis hospital. Giuliana was diagnosed with second- and third-degree burns on her lower back and arms and needed treatment at a nationally recognized burn center. Six hours later, she arrived at Loyola University Medical Center.
Loyola Medicine's Burn Center is the largest burn center in Illinois and a national leader in treating adult and pediatric burns and trauma.
"The majority of our burn patients are children who are seriously injured in cooking or food-related injuries," said burn surgeon Anthony Baldea, MD.
According to the American Burn Foundation, 136,000 children were seen in emergency rooms in 2011 for burn injuries. More than 1,100 children die each year from burn injuries.The annual cost of scald injuries is $44 million.
"Almost 20 percent of Giuliana's body was severely burned. But it could have been much worse if her mother had not acted quickly and correctly," Dr. Baldea said.
Loyola's burn team sedated Giuliana and gave her regular skin debridement, in which dead or damaged skin is carefully removed and wounds cleaned. Giuliana underwent successful surgery to remove damaged skin and place a temporary skin covering to protect the wounds while her body recovered. After 14 days at Loyola's burn intensive care unit, Giuliana went home.
"Giuliana's wounds continue to improve and the burned areas are healing well. We do not even expect to see any scarring," said Dr. Baldea. "She will continue to recover at home, surrounded by her family and loved ones, which is truly the best medicine."
Most cooking injuries can be avoided by using precautions, including these tips from Dr. Baldea:
- Create a "no kid zone" in the kitchen around stoves, ovens and hot items
- Don't allow appliance cords (from slow cookers, deep fryers, coffeemakers, etc.) to dangle over the counter edge
- Keep anything hot on tabletops out of reach of young children who can pull them down
- Place pots and pans on the back burner with handles turned away from the stove
If a burn does occur, Dr. Baldea advises:
- Cool the burn with cool, not cold, water to stop the burning process
- Remove all clothing, including diapers, from the injured area
- Cover the area with a clean dry sheet or bandages
- Seek medical attention immediately
"I want everyone to learn from our experience to prevent future burn injuries. Don't let children play in the kitchen when food is cooking," Mrs. Maggio said. "I am a medical professional and it happened to my daughter, so please believe that it can potentially happen to you, too."