Scalds and burns are very common injuries in children. Your child’s skin is thinner and more sensitive than yours. Therefore, a child’s skin burns more quickly and at a lower temperature than an adult. Often scalds and burns are caused by:

  • hot tap water
  • hot liquids (examples are coffee or tea)
  • hot food (example soup)
  • steam (example is from a kettle or pot).

The good news is that these types of injuries can be prevented.

Protect Your Child

From Kitchen Scalds and Burns:

The kitchen can be a very dangerous place for children. Children need to be supervised carefully when in the kitchen. If an adult is not in the kitchen, children should be kept out.

  • Whenever possible, use the back burners on the stove for cooking. Turn pot handles to the centre of the stove to keep hot food from getting knocked onto your child.
  • Do not let cords from electrical appliances (such as your kettle) hang over the edge of a counter or table. Your child might pull the cord and be scalded by hot liquid.
  • Keep your child safely out of the way when you are cooking or making hot drinks. Your child is most likely to be scalded in the kitchen when you are busy working there.

From Bathtub Scalds and Burns:

Follow these steps to make sure your child’s bath water is a safe temperature.

  • Run cold water into the bathtub first. Then add hot water until the bath is warm (not hot). Run a bit more cold water at the end to cool off the faucet.
  • Before you put your child in the bathtub, test the water with your elbow. The water should feel warm, not hot. The right temperature for your child is cooler than what you would choose for your own bath.
  • Keep your child away from the hot water tap. Do not let him or her turn it on.
  • Do not leave your young child in the bathtub with an older child. The older child may turn on the hot water tap.
  • Always stay with a child under the age of five when he or she is in the bath or near bath water. A scald can happen in seconds.
  • If anyone else gives your child a bath (for example, a relative or babysitter), teach him or her these points to keep your child safe.

From Hot Water Scalds and Burns:

Hot water burns a child’s skin like fire. Therefore, the first thing you should do is lower the temperature of the hot water in your home. Most hot water heaters in Canada are set at 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit). Your child’s skin can burn in just one second at this temperature.

  • Check the temperature of your hot water and lower it to 49 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit). This is a much safer temperature for your child.
  • You can lower your water temperature by turning down your hot water heater or by putting anti-scald devices on your taps.

From Microwave Scalds and Burns:

It is not a good idea to use a microwave to heat anything for your baby. Microwaves generally do not heat evenly and often create hot pockets which can easily burn your child’s mouth or tongue.

  • If you have decided to feed your baby by bottle, it is better to heat a bottle in warm water and to heat food on the stove.
  • If you do use a microwave, mix the food or shake the bottle after it has been heated. This will help get rid of hot spots.
  • Check the temperature before giving anything heated in the microwave to your child. It should feel warm, not hot.

From Household Appliance Scalds and Burns:

  • Keep cords from electrical appliances such as deep fryers, kettles, steam irons and toasters out of children’s reach.
  • Unplug hot appliances when not in use.
  • Supervise children near lamps with accessible hot light bulbs.
  • Keep children away from baseboard and portable heaters.

From Scalds and Burns Caused By Fire:

All lighters and matches should be kept away from children. Even though a lighter may have a child-resistant lock, it is still not always childproof.

  • Keep lighters and matches out of the sight and reach of children.
  • Install and maintain smoke detectors. Test the smoke detector regularly to make sure that the batteries are working.

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