Pressure cookers are one of the most frequently utilized cooking utensils in the United States, with nearly one-fifth of households using them, according to the Spartan Medical Research Journal (SMRJ).
Though today’s pressure cookers come with numerous safety features, the superheated steam they produce can cause terrible burns and other injuries.
If you were severely burned, run your injury under cool water and have it treated at your nearest hospital emergency room as soon as possible. Here are more ways to treat a burn from a pressure cooker.
Thermal Burns and Scalds
Pressure cookers produce boiling hot water vapor and can cause scald-related injuries called thermal burns. A boiling or even hot liquid can also cause a scald burn. Further, about 35% of all burn injuries admitted to burn centers in the United States are scald burns, according to the American Burn Association (ABA).
Steam scalds from pressure cookers and other appliances can happen in any age group; however, some age groups are more at risk. These include:
- Adults with specific medical conditions
The superheated water molecules in steam can instantly scald your exposed body anywhere, including your:
- Nose, mouth, and windpipe’s mucous membranes
Pressure Cooker Release Valves
Pressure cookers work by trapping steam and using 15 pounds per square inch (psi) to increase your water’s boiling point to about 250 degrees Fahrenheit. To unlock the appliance’s lid, you must first release this accumulated pressure by pressing a button.
The button releases hot steam through a small vent. You could experience a scald burn if you or a loved one’s face, hands, or arms touch the steam.
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How Pressure Cooker Burns Are Classified
Burns from pressure cookers are typically classified by the involvement of each skin layer and the extent to which each suffered damage.
- First-degree burns: First-degree burns are superficial yet painful and only affect the top layer of skin. Most of these injury types can be treated at home and will heal within a few weeks.
- Second-degree burns: This burn type is characterized by blisters and possibly blood vessel exposure. It involves the thick tissue called the dermis below the epidermis and often causes extreme pain.
- Third-degree burns: Third-degree or full-thickness burns include all skin layers and can consist of bone and muscle damage beneath the skin. Because third-degree burns destroy nerve fibers in the dermis, these burn types are not as painful.
Treating a Pressure Cooker Burn
The following are steps to treat a burn from a pressure cooker:
- Unplug the appliance: The first step is to unplug or turn off the machine and remove the victim, or yourself, from the steam to prevent additional burns.
- Stop the burn process: Your dermal layers will continue burning even after the heat source has been eliminated. That’s why it’s crucial to cool the area to prevent the burn process:
- Run or pour cool (not cold) water over the scalded area. The cool water will decrease the burn’s temperature.
- Keep running cool water over the burn even after you or your loved one feels better and until the skin feels cool to the touch.
- You may need to continue flushing your burn using cold water for 20 minutes or more to completely interrupt the burn process and stop the injury from progressing.
- Cover the burn injury: Use a sterile, dry dressing to cover the wound. Change the bandaging daily for at least 10 days. If it looks like the injured area is healing, remove the bandage.
- Take a pain medication: Take an over-the-counter (OTC) medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- Check for signs of infection: Signs of infection may include a change of appearance at the injury site, pus or drainage, or a fever. If you think the burn injury has become infected, immediately call your healthcare provider.
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When to Call 911 for a Pressure Cooker Burn
Call for emergency medical assistance if the area burned is greater than 9% of your body. You or your loved one will need to be transported to a burn center by ambulance.
To determine if the injury takes up 9% of your body, the burn will be approximately equal to your:
- Entire hand or foot
- Lower back
- Upper back
- Leg below the knee
In addition, call 911 if your entire foot, hand, or genitalia was burned or if you or a loved one becomes short of breath following the steam injury. When steam gets into your airway, it can trigger swelling in the throat long after the injury has happened.
Also, avoid applying salves, ointments, or cream to the scald wound.
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Pressure Cooker Safety Tips
When purchasing a new pressure cooker, make sure you buy one tested and certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). UL certification reduces manufacturer error and ensures that the product meets industry standards.
If you plan to use your pressure cooker frequently, consider buying a model that comes with a built-in timer. Timers allow you to set the desired cooking time without constantly checking on the process.
Additionally, timers can be programmed to automatically turn off the cooker once the cooking cycle is complete.
Additional pressure cooker safety tips:
- Always read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before operating your pressure cooker. Failure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions could lead to severe injury or death.
- Ensure no food residue is stuck to the bottom of the pot lid. Food residue can clog the valve and prevent proper operation.
- Never leave your pressure cooker unattended while it’s heating up. If you do, you risk scalding yourself if the cooker overheats.
- Always keep the pressure cooker away from heat sources, including radiators, fireplaces, and space heaters. External heat can damage the pressure cooker’s internal components and lead to unsafe operating conditions.
- Never place a metal utensil inside the pressure cooker after heating the water. Metal utensils may become too hot to handle, and you could get burned.
- Use the capacity lines to prevent over- or under-filling your pressure cooker. The amount of liquid required for cooking varies depending on the size of your pressure cooker vessel.
- Do not overfill your pressure cooker. Overfilling it with food can block pressure valves, preventing steam from escaping.
Call a Lawyer If Your Pressure Cooker Burns Were Caused by Negligence
Though modern pressure cookers are touted as safe, burn injuries still happen. If you think your burns were caused due to manufacturer negligence, you might be able to file a personal injury claim.
To file a pressure cooker explosion lawsuit, you will have to demonstrate something wrong with the way the product was designed or manufactured. For instance, this might involve showing that the product had a history of similar accidents, was unreasonably dangerous, or lacked adequate warnings and caused your injuries.
A product liability specialist at Zanes Law Injury Lawyers will analyze your case and decide if you have a claim for compensation for your burn injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation.