Health Department

How to Prevent Burns in Children

How to Prevent Burns in Children
By Larry D. Jones, MPH
September 24, 2012

We all want to keep our children safe and secure and help them live to their full potential. Knowing how to prevent leading causes of child injury, like burns, is a step toward this goal. Scald burns, caused by hot liquids or steam, are more common among burn-related injuries in young children, compared to contact burns, caused by direct contact with fire, which are more prevalent among older children.

The majority of scald burns children experience are from hot foods and liquids spilled in the kitchen or wherever food is prepared and served. To help protect your child from these types of burns, cook with care. Use safe cooking practices, such as never leaving food unattended on the stove. Also, supervise or restrict children’s use of stoves, ovens, or microwaves.

In addition to scald burns in the kitchen, bath time is another high risk time for scald burns in young children. Tap water burns most often occur in the bathroom and tend to be more severe and cover a larger portion of the body than other scald burns. A recent survey found that only 8 percent of adults felt that the bathroom was a high risk area for burn and scald incidents. Hot tap water accounts for nearly one in four of all scald burns among children and is associated with more deaths and hospitalizations than any other hot liquid burns. To prevent hot tap water burns, check water heater temperature. Set your water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Infants who aren’t walking yet can’t get out of water that may be too hot, making them most prone to scald burns. By maintaining a constant thermostat setting, it can help control the water temperature throughout your home, preventing water temperatures from getting too high.

Childhood scald burns are a serious risk, and are often over-looked. Each year, the total cost of scald burn-related deaths and injuries among children ages 14 and under is approximately $44 million. Due to the seriousness of this risk, all code-making bodies on the national and regional level have established plumbing standards for newly constructed homes and residential units requiring anti-scald technology and a maximum water heater temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you have additional questions on Child and Burn Safety, please contact the Independence Health Department at (816) 325-7185.

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