Fire & Burns
Burns & Scalds: Surprising Dangers, Simple Tips
Babies and young children have thinner skin than older kids and adults; their skin burns more quickly and at lower temperatures. In fact, around 120,000 children are treated in ERs for burn-related injuries each year. It takes your watchful eye and the steps below to prevent burns and scalds in children.
- Set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, or the manufacturer’s recommended setting, to prevent accidental scalding. Be sure to always test the hot water temperature after adjusting the gauges.
- Always check the water temperature with a temperature-sensing bath toy, or your wrist or elbow, before bathing a baby, toddler or young child.
- Install anti-scald devices on water faucets and shower heads. This will stop the flow of water if it gets too hot.
- Do not leave a hot cooking area unattended. Keep children at least three feet away from stoves, ovens and backyard grills.
- Never carry or hold a child while using the stove. Instead, move a highchair into the kitchen, away from the stove, but within reach or sight of a parent.
- Use the back burners of the stove and turn pot handles away from the edge, to prevent hot spills.
- Set hot items, food and drinks away from the edge of counters, so that young children cannot reach them.
- Slowly open containers that have just been heated in the microwave. Steam can easily cause burns and scalds in children.
- Do not heat baby formula or baby milk in the microwave, as it can create hot spots. Instead, heat bottles by placing them in a cup or mug of warm water, and check the temperature on your wrist before feeding your baby.
- When children are old enough, teach them how to use a microwave safely, and to always use oven mitts and potholders when removing hot food.
- Cover all unused electrical outlets with outlet covers.
- Never leave irons, hair dryers or other heat-producing appliances unattended. These items can heat quickly and stay warm after use. Always unplug them, and tuck the cord away or store them after you are done.
- Do not let young children use electrical appliances. Supervise older children when they are using these appliances.
- Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, including your basement. Place them near sleeping areas, and inside each bedroom.
- Keep flammable materials away from space heaters and candles. Make sure space heaters are turned off and candles are blown out before you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Install safety barriers around ovens, fireplaces and furnaces. Keep in mind that glass screens can take a long time to cool down.
- Store matches, lighters and other flammable materials, such as gasoline, in a safe place, or high up out of your child’s reach and sight. Teach them to never play with these things.
- Learn more about fire safety and how to keep little ones safe from burns here.
Hot bath water causes more than half of all scalds in children.
- Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital