Be Burn Aware: Keep Children Safe From Scalds

Source: Safe Kids USA, American Burn Association, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Center for Health Statistics

Every day, hundreds of young children with burn injuries caused by scalding are taken to emergency rooms. Scalds burns (caused by hot liquids, steam or foods) are one of the most common burn injuries among children age 4 and younger. Many of these injuries could have been prevented with a few simple precautions:

Be Safe in the Bathroom!

  • Lower the water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius) or less.
  • When filling the bathtub, run cold water first, and mix in warmer water.
  • Before placing a child in the bathtub, check the water temperature by rapidly moving your hand through the water. If the water feels hot to an adult, it is too hot for a child.
  • In the bathtub, face the child away from the faucets.
  • Use knob covers on faucets.
  • Always supervise children in the bath.

Be Kitchen and Dining Room Smart Too!

  • Use oven mitts or hot pads when cooking.
  • Turn pot handles inward.
  • Thoroughly stir all microwaved foods.
  • Never heat baby bottles in a microwave.
  • Provide supervision to children under age 7 using a microwave.
  • Do not use deep fryers around children.

How Scalds Occur:

Most scald injuries occur in residencies. Scald burns are typically related to ordinary activities – bathing, cooking and eating – and often happen to children because of a lapse in adult supervision or a lack of protective measures.

Young children have thinner skin that burns more quickly than adults. People of all ages can be burned in 30 seconds by a flowing liquid that is 130 degrees Fahrenheit; at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, it takes only five seconds; at 160 degrees Fahrenheit, it only takes one second. For children under 5, these temperatures can cause a burn in half the time.

Quick Facts About Scald Injuries:

  • According to Safe Kids USA, 90 percent of non-tap water scalds are caused during cooking or drinking hot liquids.
  • Sixty percent of all scald injuries are to young children (ages 0-4).
  • Seventy-five percent of all burns to young children are scalds.
  • Cooking-related scald injuries occur to people of all ages, but are especially serious when they occur to young children or older adults. These scalds are often deep, because of the high temperatures involved.
  • Hot tap water is the cause of nearly 1 in 4 of all scald burns affecting children, and is associated with the majority of the deaths and hospitalizations related to scald burns.
  • Steam reaches temperatures over 300 degrees and builds rapidly in covered containers. Steam can burn the face, arms and hands. Use vented containers to allow steam to escape when cooking, or at least wait a full minute and use care when removing the cover.
  • Adequate supervision of children is the most important factor in preventing tap water scalds, especially in the bathroom.