University Health is committed to providing education about the leading causes of trauma, such as pediatric burns. We want to serve our community and help to prevent as many burn injuries to children as possible.
Burn Prevention Is Everyone’s Job
Burns can result from even routine activities. Your children could be exposed to these risks on any given day at home or a friend’s home:
- Scalding from hot liquids, such as bath water, soup, coffee or from steam
- Contact with fire or hot objects, such as BBQ grills and stove tops
- Chemical burns from cleaners, bleach, batteries, etc.
- Electrical burns from appliance cords or outlets
- Outdoor burns caused by the sun or hot metal they come in contact with
Tips for Preventing Burns in Children
All caregivers should be familiar with these tips to help prevent kids from being burned.
From ovens, microwaves and toasters to clothing irons, curling irons and humidifiers, the potential for burns is all around your home. Keep these off-limits until your children are older. When they’re ready for the responsibility, teach your children to be cautious using these appliances and to always turn them off when they’re finished using them.
Take extra precautions during winter months when you use space heaters or fireplaces.
Space heaters – Keep children away and never leave space heaters unattended. Place these at least three feet from anything flammable. Refuel kerosene heaters with kerosene only, only when the heaters are cool and only outdoors. Electrical space heaters are just as dangerous as gas heaters.
Fireplaces – Protect your fireplace with an approved glass or metal screen. Add a safety gate if you have young children.
Avoid giving your child hot liquids altogether to prevent burns. Young children should be given “ready-made” snacks, such as granola bars and yogurt. If you’re holding your child while drinking coffee or another hot beverage, prevent spills by using a lid.
Always keep an eye on children while you cook, and supervise their use of cooking appliances.
- Stoves/ovens – Never leave hot liquids unattended on the stove or on countertops. Cook on back burners and turn pot handles in toward the cooktop. Teach older children how to handle food safely with oven mitts and potholders.
- Microwaves – Remind your kids to let food cool in the microwave, open lids carefully and stir thoroughly to distribute heat before eating.
Set your water heater’s thermostat to a maximum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Keep bath water at 101 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for infants and toddlers, and remember to test the water with your wrist or elbow.
Chemical burns are often extremely dangerous. Chemicals can present two dangers: poisoning by ingestion, and contact irritation from fumes, vapors, powders and liquids. Keep household cleaners, bleach, batteries and other similar items safely out of reach.
Do not mix chemicals unless you know they can be mixed. Unsafe chemical reactions can cause burns.
Keep coin-sized batteries and devices that use these small batteries out of your child’s sight and reach. Swallowing a battery can cause a chemical reaction and severely burn the esophagus. Practice these button battery safety tips.
It’s easy to forget the sun poses more risks than just skin cancer. Be aware of these sun-related burns when your kids are outside.
Always apply sunscreen when you and your kids go outside.
- Choose SPF 15 or higher
- Apply sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before going outside
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours -- more often if your kids are in the water
Keep infants under six months out of the sun entirely.
Be cautious of playground equipment when it's hot outside. Keep in mind kids also can be burned by hot vinyl and metal on vehicle seats, car seats, strollers and seat belts. Cover these with a blanket or towel or place them in a shady spot.