Health Information

Preventing Burns in Children

IMAGE Burn injuries are reported each year, with a good number occurring in the home. You can take the following simple steps to reduce your child's risk of getting burned:

Sleeping

  • Make sure your child's sleepwear is flame-resistant.

Cooking

  • Turn pot handles to the center or rear of the stove when cooking and use the back burners whenever possible.
  • Test the temperature of food heated in a microwave before giving it to a child. Microwaves tend to heat unevenly and some portions can be very hot.
  • Remember that kitchen appliances and cookware remain hot enough to burn for quite a while after you are done using them.

Eating and Drinking

  • Do not drink hot liquids when holding a baby. The liquid could spill and burn the baby.
  • Avoid using a tablecloth when children are learning to walk. A child could try to use it to pull herself up and knock a heavy object or something containing hot liquid onto herself.

Bathing

  • Use a baby bath thermometer to test the temperature of your child's bath water.
  • Lower the hot-water heater setting to 120°F (49°C) or the low-medium setting.

Fire Prevention

  • Keep cigarette lighters and matches away from children. Even a child as young as two can figure out how to use them.
  • Do not leave lit candles unattended. They are easy for children (or pets) to knock over.
  • Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home. Check battery-operated detectors every six months to make sure they are still working properly. Replace the batteries annually.
  • Consider having a fire extinguisher in the house. But only use it for small fires. In the event of a large fire, everyone should leave the house right away.
  • Create a fire escape plan and practice it with your children. Teach them to go outside if a fire occurs in the house.

Electricity and Appliances

  • Always supervise children around fires, stoves, heaters, or anything that could cause burn injury.
  • Cover unused electrical outlets with plastic plug covers.
  • Keep electrical cords from irons, coffee pots, and other appliances out of the reach of children.

RESOURCES

American Burn Association http://www.ameriburn.org/

Shriner's Hospital for Children http://www.shrinershq.org/

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Burn Foundation http://www.canadianburnfoundation.org/

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/

References

Age-related safety sheets. The Injury and Prevention Program (TIPP). American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: http://www.aap.org.

Keeping safe from burns. Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/all-around/pages/Keeping-Safe-From-Burns.aspx. Updated June 10, 2010. Accessed December 1, 2010.