Common Childhood Burns and How to Prevent Them

Our homes are opportunities for kids to be burned because hazards are everywhere from a hot water heater set too high, to handles of pots turned outside instead of inside, to liquids in bottles being too hot. Kids get burned when bath water is too hot, or they grab a container of hot liquid left too close to the edge where little finger can’t resist pulling them down. Some burns are minor and can be healed at home using first aid. Other burns are more serious and need medical care. There are many causes of childhood burns.

Scalds are the number one cause of childhood burns. Scalding can occur when kids are exposed to hot steam, too hot bath water, tipped over hot liquids, or cooking fluids.

Flames can also burn when kids play near stoves, matches or lighters that are unattended. Other hot objects that come into contact with skin can also burn such as curling iron, clothing iron, or a hot radiator.

Chemical burns can happen through many common household products like bleach spilled on skin, drain cleaner, and watch batteries that are swallowed.

Burns at home can also be caused by electrical appliances being dropped into water, or from fingers or metal objects being stuck into electrical outlets or small appliances or from small children sucking or biting on electrical cords.

Outdoors can bring the danger of sunburn, especially to little ones with sensitive, fair skin.

Kids can complicate burns by scratching them when they itch as they heal. When kids scratch skin that is healing from a burn they may introduce dirt or bacteria into the burned area or irritate the skin and start an infection.

There are many things that adults can do to help prevent kids from getting burned in the home.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help prevent burns in your home:

Do an annual checkup of your home’s heating system to catch any malfunctioning parts that could start fires

Keep all electrical appliances and the cords to them, up out of the reach of children

Keep a fire extinguisher on every level of your home, so that it is easy to get to if it is needed

Make sure that small kids cannot get to space heaters or kerosene heaters, barbecue grills, woodstoves, fireplaces or other heating elements by erecting barriers, or installing child locks or gates to keep kids away from these items.

Always make sure that hot liquids are placed away from the edge of counters, stoves and tables and never carry a small child while holding a hot beverage.

If anyone smokes in the home, make sure they never smoke while in bed and that they fully extinguish butts properly

Smoke detectors should have working batteries in them and be tested weekly and change batteries every six months. Smoke detectors should be placed on every level of the home, in the kitchen, and in the hallway by bedrooms

The hot water heater should be set at 120°F to avoid scalding during baths or showers

Tablecloths should not be used in homes where small infants, babies or toddlers are because they could pull them down spilling hot liquids or food on the kids

Children should never be allowed to play in the kitchen

Handles of pots and pans should be turned away and facing inside towards the back of the stove. Always use the back burners instead of the front burners whenever possible

Use hats, sunshades, sunglasses and umbrellas to protect young children from the sun’s rays. Use sunscreen and keep young babies and toddlers out of direct sunlight