From Amps to Zap! Preventing Electrical-related Burn Injuries on the Farm, Ranch, and at Home

Each year, in both the United States and Canada, approximately 450,000 people seek medical attention for burn injuries. In 2014 alone, burn injuries claimed 3,275 lives. What is even more sobering is the fact that many of these burn-related injuries were preventable. To shed light on this important issue, the American Burn Association observes Burn Awareness Week during the first full week in February.

Sadly, on September 21, 2013, the Allsup family of Earlham, Iowa, found their lives forever changed when they learned first-hand the seriousness of burn injuries. Their 10-year-old son, Christopher, fell victim to fatal burns obtained from an old gas can explosion. Christopher suffered burns on more than 90% of his body. The incident occurred in the early morning hours, while his dad was still sleeping, and his mother was on her way to work. Both Christopher, and his older brother Chad (who was 13 at the time), decided to start a fire outside. What was most devastating is the fact that this incident could have been prevented. Following Christopher’s death, the Allsup family established The Legacy of Christopher Allsup Gas Can Exchange in 2014, along with The Legacy of Christopher Allsup Foundation in 2017.  The family has vowed to educate and raise awareness regarding the dangers of portable gasoline containers that do not conform to ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) consumer safety standards.

This year’s theme “Electrical Safety from Amps to Zap!”, highlights burn injuries related to electrical dangers associated with unprotected electrical outlets, improperly used extension cords, lightning, and other workplace electrical injuries. For the past several years, electric safety has been one of the most popular topics offered at Progressive Agriculture Safety Days throughout North America, reaching nearly 50,000 youth participants in 2019 alone. From large high voltage to smaller tabletop demonstrations, participants learn to always look up for overhead powerlines, as well as down below for potential dangers, obey the signs, and identify what to do if power lines fall on a tractor, truck, or car.

Since nearly 73% of burns occur in the home, talking to your children about prevention is key. Here are a few ways you can prevent burn-related injuries:

  1. Use lighters and matches in a safe manner and keep them out of reach when not in use.
  2. Do not leave children unattended around open flames including campfires, candles, and barbeque grills. Have a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet or 1 meter near open flamed and areas where hot food or drinks are prepared to prevent scalding. Using the backburners of a stove when cooking, also add an extra layer of safety.
  3. Use covers to protect and keep fingers and other items out of outlets. Also, don’t overload outlets or power strips with too many cords.
  4. Keep electrical cords away from water sources, most often found in the kitchen or bathroom. This includes phone chargers, curling irons, and hairdryers.
  5. Keep accelerants, such as gasoline and propane, outside of the home and locked up.

This safety message was brought to you by the Progressive Agriculture Safety Days program, on a mission to provide education, training and resources to make farm, ranch and rural life safer and healthier for children and their communities.For additional safety information or details about hosting, volunteering, or attending a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, visit www.progressiveag.org or call us toll-free at 888-257-3529. Help send another child to a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day in 2021 and text the word “SAFETYDAY” to 44321.

Photo: His family could have never imagined this would be the last school photo ever taken of 10-year-old, Christopher Allsup. Sadly, burn injuries sustained on September 21, 2013 from an unsafe gasoline can ended his young life. The Progressive Agriculture Safety Day program is on a mission to provide the education, training, and resources to prevent incidents like this from occurring to children living on farming or rural communities.  

Written By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

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