According to the American Burn Association, the majority of all scald burns in the U.S. happen to young children, and scald burns by far are the most common type of burn that children receive.
Scald burns occur when contact with hot liquids or steam damages one or more layers of skin. Hot tap water, hot beverages, hot food, and steam are the most common causes of scald burns.
Underdeveloped cognitive and motor abilities and thinner layers of skin are some of the main reasons why children are more at risk of being scalded than others. According to the Burn Foundation, 200,000 children are burned by contact with hot substances and objects. Of those children, 15,000 are burned seriously enough to require hospitalization and 1,100 on average will die as a result of their injuries.
Almost all pediatric scald burns occur within the home, so understanding how to prevent accidents and being more aware of how scalding injuries usually occur can help save children from a lot of pain, and may even save their lives. The National Scald Prevention Campaign offers the following tips to reduce the risk of scalding injuries to children:
- Set your water heater at 120 degrees F (48 degrees C), which is just below the medium setting to prevent children from being scalded by excessively hot tap water.
- Use a thermometer to test the temperature of the water coming out of the bath water tap.
- Run your hand through the bath water to test for hot spots before putting children in.
- Use back burners and turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so children cannot pull them down.
- Use oven mitts when cooking or handling hot food and drinks. This will not only protect adults from being burned, but it will prevent dropping or throwing containers of hot liquids or substances that are too hot, inadvertently scalding children.
- Stir and test food cooked in the microwave before serving. Open heated containers away from you from back to front.
- Keep children away from the stove when cooking by using a safety gate for younger children and marking with tape a 3-foot “no-kid zone” for older children.
- Keep hot drinks away from the edge of tables and counters and avoid using tablecloths and placemats.
- Use a “travel mug” with a tight-fitting lid for all hot drinks.
- Never hold or carry a child while you have a hot drink in your hand, or while preparing or serving hot food.
- Never heat a baby’s bottle in the microwave and keep children away from microwave ovens.
- Avoid using tablecloths that toddlers can pull off of tables.