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Published on February 08, 2019

child reaching for a pan on the stove

Keep Kids Safe From Burns

On average, emergency departments across the country treat 300 children each day for burns.

What’s odd is that more than 44 percent of adults don’t think of burn injuries as a serious danger in the home. Here’s a review of safety tips to prevent burns:

Scalding Risks

Scald burns are burns that are caused by hot liquids or steam. Common hazards in the home include water heaters set at a temperature that is too high, resulting in scalding water in the bath, shower or sink; cups containing scalding beverages like coffee or tea; boiling pots on the stove; food in the microwave; and appliances like deep fat fryers.

Children are more vulnerable for several reasons:

  • Because of their immature motor and thinking skills, children often can’t anticipate danger.
  • Children lack the ability to “self-rescue” – they don’t know enough to get out of a shower or bath that is too hot, or what to do if they are burned.
  • Children depend on adult supervision to avoid danger; if supervision is lacking, or if responsibility is given to someone too young or immature, burn injuries can occur.

Check Your Water Heater Temperature

According to safety organizations like Safe Kids, Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Academy of Pediatrics, a home water heater should be set to 120 degrees F, but unfortunately, many people are not aware of this recommendation.

Dangerously high water temperatures have been found in 41 percent of inspected homes. Rental properties pose even greater risks. Remember: a three-second exposure to water at 140 degree F is enough to cause a serious burn.

You can find directions for setting the temperature on your water heater in the owner’s manual or online. Twenty-four hours after setting the temperature at 120 degrees, turn on a faucet and let the hot water run for about three minutes, then test with an instant read thermometer. If the temperature is still too hot, adjust the water heater and retest in 24 hours.

Bath Water Tips

  • Always check a child’s bath or shower water temperature. Even if you use a safety thermometer, check with your hand as well.
  • Young children should not run their own bath water.
  • Purchase a protective cover for the bathtub faucet so young children cannot turn on the water.
  • Teach your older child how to check the water temperature before getting into the bath or shower and be sure he or she knows how to turn the faucet for warmer or cooler water temperatures.

Prevention Tips for Liquids and Steam

  • Keep cups and insulated containers containing hot liquids like coffee out of children’s reach; avoid drinking hot liquids when holding an infant or child.
  • Keep pots of hot liquids and teapots on the back burners of the stove; turn pot handles to the side or back where a child can’t reach up and pull on them.
  • Never let cords from slow cookers, instant pots, deep fat fryers, coffee pots or any appliance dangle over the edge of a countertop where a child could grab them and pull the appliance down.
  • Young children should not use the microwave. Teach older children how to use hot pads to remove items, and how to tip the lid away from themselves to release steam safely.
  • When older children begin using appliances like popcorn poppers or anything with steam, teach them how to correctly and safely remove lids to avoid steam burns.

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