Children experience scalds and burn most commonly in the home. Supervising your little one is crucial in preventing harm or injury, especially when near heat and hot liquids.
Burns are caused by dry heat, such as flames, hot irons, stovetops, appliances, etc. Scalds are caused by hot liquids, such as boiling water and soups. Other things that can cause burns include electricity, friction, and chemicals. Besides supervision, here’s how you can help avoid scalds and burns throughout the home:
Kitchen and mealtimes
To minimize the risk of your child suffering a burn or scald in the kitchen, you can:
- Use back burners on the stove, as front burners are easier for curious hands to reach.
- Keep electrical appliance cords out of reach.
- Cook with pot/pan handles turned inwards and away from the edges of the stove.
- Avoid cooking or consuming hot foods or drinks while holding your baby.
- Test food temperature before serving to your child.
- Stir microwaved food well to distribute heat evenly. Let it cool before feeding your little one.
- Use placemats that stick to the table. Children can tug on table cloths, and hot food or drinks could fall on them.
- Inform children that the kitchen is not a play area.
- Consider installing a safety gate in the kitchen doorway while you’re cooking or boiling the kettle.
- Remember that boiled water can be hot enough to scald up to 30 minutes after boiling.
Always supervise your child around water and in the bathroom. Minimize bathroom burn and scald hazards by:
- Having a licensed plumber set your hot water system to a max of 50°C.
- Check bath temperature with a thermometer or your elbow/wrist. It should be 38°C maximum.
- Turn the hot water off before the cold water so the tap doesn’t stay as hot.
- Always keep your child within arms reach when in the bath.
- Keep the bathroom door closed when you aren’t in there with your child.
- Keep appliance cords, like for bedside lamps, out of reach.
- Choose low-fire-danger sleepwear and linen.
- Do not use electric blankets on your child’s bed.
- Have safety screens in front of heaters or fireplaces.
- Always supervise your child around an open flame, such as a fireplace.
- Make sure there is at least 1m distance between the front of the heater and any object. Do not drape clothes too close to the heater.
- Test smoke alarms.
- Avoid doing the ironing while your little one is still up and about. Always keep a hand on the iron while it is on, and do not leave the cord dangling while it is cooling down before packing away.
- Prevent your little one from touching their seat belt buckle on hot days. The metal can get very hot.
- Be mindful of metal playgrounds on hot days.
- Supervise children near BBQs and firepits.
- Ensure any outdoor heaters aren’t at risk of toppling over.
- Store any gas or aerosols out of reach.
- Teach your child about the danger of hot things.
Some tips that apply to the whole home include:
- Turn taps off tightly, so little hands cannot play with them.
- Store flammables up high or in a locked cupboard.
- Use baby gates to keep your little one out of no-go zones.
- Never light a candle close to a curtain or other material.
- Always supervise your little one around water and hot appliances.
- Keep appliance cords out of the way. Never let them dangle down where your little one could reach them.
What do I do if my child gets a burn or scald?
- Remove any clothing covering the burn or scald.
- Run the area under cool running water for at least 20 minutes. Do not apply freezing water or ice.
- Cover the burn with a damp cloth. Keep the area moist.
- If the burn or scald is severe, call 000.
- Consult your pharmacist or doctor as soon as you can to ask about follow-up burn creams.