700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Adjusting to Life at Home: Keeping Kids Safe From Burns

Apr 17, 2020
Child in high chair while mom does dishes

Parents and families continue to adjust to new routines caused by COVID-19 as stay at home orders remain in place for our community. The increase in the amount of time spent in the home setting makes home safety even more important for children and their families.

Children are especially vulnerable to burn injuries. Each year thousands of children are treated in the hospital for burns. Common causes of burn injury requiring hospitalization include scald burns, contact burns and flame burns. There are a number of safety measures families can take to prevent burn related injuries.

Kitchen Safety

The kitchen can be a dangerous place for children during meal preparation. Hot liquids, grease and hot foods can cause serious burn injuries when spilled on a child.

Microwaveable foods are also dangerous for children and are responsible for a large number of scald-burn injuries. Although microwaves are quick and easy to use, liquids, foods and containers can become hot enough to cause a serious burn when grabbed or spilled. The following safety tips are important to consider during meal preparation:

  • Create a “no kid zone” of at least three feet around stoves, ovens, microwaves and hot items in the kitchen.
  • Keep young children out of rooms where a hot object can be touched. Consider a safe place for your child when you are cooking, such as a playpen, crib or buckled in a high-chair.
  • Never hold a child while cooking, drinking hot liquids, or carrying hot foods or liquids.
  • Remember to treat items coming from the microwave as you would items from the oven and supervise microwave use by children.
  • Place pots and pans on the back burner with handles turned away from the edge of the stove.
  • Keep hot objects, including hot drinks, away from table edges and out of reach of young children who can pull them down. Also, avoid placing these objects on tablecloths that can be pulled down.

Fire Safety

As the weather gets warmer, more children and families are playing outside and participating in outdoor fire traditions. During this time, it is important to consider fire safety for children of all ages when having a campfire or bonfire. All parts of a fire, including hot embers and coals, can be harmful to children. Fire pits can remain hot enough to cause severe burns for up to 12 hours after they are extinguished. The following safety tips are important when considering a campfire or bonfire with children:

  • Children should be supervised at all times around fires and fire pits.
  • Keep children at least 3 feet from the fire edge.
  • DO NOT use an accelerant such as gasoline, kerosene or aerosol sprays to start a fire.
  • DO NOT throw anything other than wood into the fire. Cans thrown into fires can explode and cause large flash flames.
  • Keep the fire small and manageable with water nearby.
  • Talk to children about fire safety.

Other Important Measures to Prevent Burn Injuries in the Home Include:

  • Set the water heater thermostat to no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Lock up matches, lighters, gasoline and chemicals.
  • Cover electrical outlets when not in use.
  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home. Test the alarms each month and change batteries once a year.
  • Supervise your child’s computer, tablet, and phone time; social media challenges sometimes encourage the use of fire, hot water and aerosol cans that can result in burn injuries.

If a burn does happen, cool the burn with COOL (not cold) water, remove all clothing and jewelry, cover the area with a clean sheet or bandage, and seek medical attention.

The Make Safe Happen app helps parents and caregivers learn how to make the rooms in their homes safer.
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Kathryn Blocher, CPNP-PC
Pedatric Surgery

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.