All Burns Are Preventable
While pediatric trauma is common, it’s also preventable. Our entire trauma team is committed to saving lives, but we know prevention is the only measure that is 100% effective. Providing education on the leading causes of trauma, such as pediatric burns, serves our community and our injury prevention mission at University Health.
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 in or around your home, or a friend’s home:
- Scalds 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
Tips for Preventing Burns in Children
All caregivers – parents, grandparents, teachers, babysitters, etc. – should be familiar with these tips to reduce kids’ chances of pediatric burns as they grow.
Avoid giving your child hot liquids altogether to prevent burns. Young children should be given “ready-made” snacks, such as granola bars and yogurt. And if you’re holding your child while drinking coffee or another hot beverage, prevent spilling it on your child 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 kids 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 before eating to distribute heat evenly.
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.
AppliancesFrom ovens, microwaves and toasters to clothing irons and curling irons to 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 are 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, always when they’re cool and always 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.
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, etc., safely out of your children’s 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.
Always apply sunscreen when you and your kids go outside.
- Choose SPF 15 or higher
- Apply 20 to 30 minutes before going outside
- Reapply every 2 hours and more often if your kids are in the water.
Keep infants under 6 months out of the sun entirely.
Burns from Equipment
Be cautious of playground equipment when it's very 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.
While electrical burns are relatively rare, an extra ounce of prevention can reduce critical injuries even further, especially in young children.
- Place plug covers over electrical outlets.
- Unplug all electrical items in your child's reach.
- Don't let your child play with toys that must be plugged in.
- Replace electrical equipment and appliances with frayed or loose wires.