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Drugs Fuel Youth Burns

The continued use of illegal drugs by youths has seen an increase in burn related injuries as some of them attempt suicide or simply become reckless with their lives, a health official said.

Sister Moelo Emily Mokhele, Professional Nurse: Burns Unit at the Pelonomi Tertiary Hospital told The Weekly in an interview that they are worried with the proliferation of drugs among the youths, particularly teenagers, as some of them seem to lose their minds and attempt suicide using very dangerous methods including burning themselves.

“We have a serious problem with drugs among the youth,” said Mokhele on Tuesday.

“There are too many drugs out there and our youths want to experiment with them but sadly, some instances had very bad endings. We hear a lot of weird stories from some of the youths and it is very worrying to us. Some say they hear voices telling them to burn themselves and they end up with severe burns. Others, because of their circumstances, choose to take their own lives by taking some of these strong drugs,” she added.

Mokhele noted said it’s very important for parents to constantly monitor their children so they know what they are doing and where they are at any given time to minimise the chances of them experimenting with dangerous substances.

“Parents must check any behavioural changes in their children. These days children are exposed to a lot of things at an early age and parents should always be on the lookout for any strange behaviour in their children. Some of the cases we handle here are very depressing and that normally affects the families as well because they may have to nurse their children for a very long time if they suffer serious burns,” she noted.

Excessive use of alcohol even among adults, also posed a huge threat as entire families could be burnt to death in their sleep if someone comes home drunk late at night and tries to cook or warm their food and fall asleep in the process.

Mokhele spoke as the country marked the National Burns Awareness Week.

She said a major roadshow will be held at the Limo Mall in Mangaung where different stakeholders, including medical staff, fire fighters, paramedics and others will be educating people on the dangers of fires and other causes of burns and how to protect themselves.

The main aim of the campaign is to help improve people’s safety, educate communities about burns, fire and safety measures to prevent danger.

South Africa observes the National Burns Awareness Week at the beginning of May every year.

Pelonomi Tertiary Hospital is renowned as having one of the best burns units in the country because of its holistic approach to treating patients with severe burns.

“We have different types of burns that we are treating here, including burns from hot water, electricity, open fire and chemicals, like acid burns. Cases of hot water burns are usually as a result of children jumping into a hot water bath or pulling a kettle with hot water from a table.

“Men also suffer hot water burns during fights with their partners and vice-versa. Chemical burns usually happen in the mines or factories because there maybe gases that can easily explode into flames when there is a certain chemical reaction and just a naked flame. We treat a lot of zama zamas (illegal miners) here,” said Mokhele.

She pointed out among some of the measures that can be used by families with young children, it is not advisable to use table cloths when there are toddlers in the house as they may put it in order to reach for something including a boiling kettle, keep paraffin and other inflammables out of reach of children, put all hot drinks, hot cooking oil and hot porridge out of reach of children, do not carry pots of boiling water around while there are toddlers on the floor or children running about, put candles in a deep glass bottle with sand in the bottom so it will be put out if it falls over, keep a bucket of sand in the house for putting out fires, remove cables from power points and never leave a heater on with no one monitoring the kids, never hold a child while cooking and people with epilepsy should stay away from burning fires or cook on their own.

By: Martin Makoni