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Child Burn Prevention

Burn injury is a worldwide problem, with nearly a fourth of all burn injuries in children younger than age 16. For children less than 5 years old, 65 percent of cases are due to scalding caused by hot substances and liquids like hot water, coffee, tea or curling irons.

For parents and care takers of young children, child burn prevention may seem like your vocabulary consists of “No,” “Don’t touch” and “That’s hot.” These cautions are important as you teach your child boundaries, especially since young children explore their world through touch.

Even more important than verbal reminders, parents need to take steps to keep their home burn-safe for children. 

Here are some things you can do for child burn prevention in your home.

In the Kitchen

  • Test the temperature of food, especially anything warmed in a microwave, before giving it to your child. A bottle of milk or formula should never be heated in a microwave.
  • Turn all handles to the back of the stove so little hands can’t grab them.
  • If your stove has knobs on the front, either use knob covers, remove the knobs or install a knob lock.
  • Don’t let children play near a stove that is being used, and don’t hold your child while cooking.
  • Don’t carry hot beverages while holding a child and be careful with hot liquids around your child. It’s easy to spill accidentally while trying to walk around a young child who is playing in the floor.

In the Bathroom

  • Set your home’s water heater to 120 F (48.9 C) or lower.
  • Add anti-scald devices for bathroom faucets and shower-heads.
  • Always test the bathwater before your child’s bath.
  • Don’t leave curling irons, straightening devices or hot rollers where a child can touch them. Keep these devices unplugged and put them where children can’t reach them.

General Tips

  • Keep matches and lighters where children can’t reach them. A locked drawer or cabinet is best. Teach your children that lighters and matches aren’t toys.
  • Use space heaters carefully. They should be placed at least three feet from bedding, drapes, furniture and other flammable materials. Children should not be allowed to play near space heaters.
  • Keep burning candles away from children. Always extinguish candles before leaving the room.
  • Be very careful with cigarettes and cigars. Ideally, you should not smoke or allow others to smoke around children. Make sure cigars and cigarettes are completely extinguished before throwing them away. Do not leave a burning cigar or cigarette in an ashtray. 
  • Cover outlets in the home. Young children may try inserting objects into an uncovered outlet, which can result in an electrical burn.
  • Don’t allow children to play near outdoor grills or fire-pits.
  • Check your child’s car seat to make sure that metal pieces aren’t too hot from sitting in the sun. You may want to keep a towel in the car to cover the car seat when it’s not in use.
  • Read the labels when buying mattresses or pajamas for your children to make sure them meet federal standards. Avoid loose-fitting garments like oversized T-shirts that are made of 100 percent cotton.
  • When it’s time for fireworks, go to a public display rather than setting off fireworks in your yard.

Burns can range from mild to life threatening. 

Always seek medical care if:

  • The burned area is large (bigger than the palm of your hand).
  • The burns resulted from a fire, an electrical source or chemicals.
  • The hands, feet, face, joints or genitals are burned.
  • The burn begins to swell, has pus or develops increasing redness or red streaks near the wound.

When treating a burn, run cool not cold water over the burn until pain lessens. Apply a light gauze bandage. Don’t use any ointments, butter or other remedies for a burn since these can make the burn worse. Do not break any blisters that form from a burn.

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