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Burn Awareness Month

Each year in the United States:

  • More than 20,000 children under the age of 15 are burned from coming in contact with curling irons and clothing irons
  • Another 16,000 children receive thermal injuries from electric ranges, ovens, grills, and heaters
  • More than 5,000 are injured by lit cigarettes and cigarette lighters
  • Over 2,000 are injured from contact with electrical cords and outlets.

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Ways of preventing/controlling scald injuries

  • Continuous and adequate supervision of children in the kitchen is of prime importance.
  • As a child’s mobility and curiosity increases, appropriate supervision becomes essential. Control a young child’s activity while he/she is in the kitchen and when food is being prepared.
    High chairs, feeding tables, playpens, etc. can control children and allow supervision during daily kitchen activities.
  • Keep children out of the “traffic path” and check their location before moving any hot liquids in the kitchen.  Keep all hot liquids at a safe distance from children.
  • Take time to fix meals without rushing.
  • Keep pot handles turned toward the back of the stove. Cook on rear burners when possible.
  • Use a “fill-through-the-spout” teapot, the kind without a lid and with a whistle in the spout, to prevent “spilled water” scalds in the kitchen.
  • Test all heated liquid and food before giving it to a child or placing it within a child’s reach.
  • Remove tablecloths when toddlers are present in the home. They tug and pull on everything within reach.  Hot liquids can easily be pulled down on them.
  • Never hold a child while drinking a hot liquid.
  • Be sure to inform baby-sitters about kitchen and appliance safety and teach them to prevent burn injuries when preparing meals.
  • Purchase appliances with short cords, and keep all cords from dangling over the edge of counters, e.g. slow cookers, coffee pots, fat fryers, and anything else that could contain hot liquids.
  • Periodically check all handles on appliances and cooking utensils to ensure the handles are tightly fastened and will afford proper heat protection.
  • Use caution when moving heavy pots of hot liquids from the stove.
  • Consider marking a “No-Zone” in front of the kitchen stove. Teach children to remain out of this zone. This can be done with colored tape on the floor.
  • Children should not be allowed to use a cooking/heating appliance until they are mature enough to understand safe-use procedures and tall enough to safely reach cooking surfaces and handle hot items.
  • Avoid using area rugs in the kitchen, especially near the stove. They can cause falls and scalds.

First Aid: Burns

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD

Scald burns from hot water and other liquids are the most common burns in early childhood. Because burns range from mild to life threatening, some can be treated at home, while others need emergency medical care.

What to Do

If your child is severely burned, call 911 right away. While you wait for help, begin these treatments:

  • Remove clothing from the burned areas, except clothing stuck to the skin.
  • Run cool (not cold) water over the burn until the pain eases.
  • Lightly apply a gauze bandage or a clean, soft cloth or towel.
  • If your child is awake and alert, offer ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain.
  • Do not put any ointments, butter, or other treatments on the burn — these can make it worse.
  • Do not break any blisters that have formed.

Get Emergency Medical Care if:

  • The burned area is large (cover the area with a clean, soft cloth or towel).
  • The burns came from a fire, an electrical wire or socket, or chemicals.
  • The burn is on the face, hands, feet, joints, or genitals.
  • The burn looks infected while it is healing. Signs of infection include swelling, pus, or increasing redness or red streaking of the skin near the burn area.