Fire & Burns

Burns & Scalds: Surprising Dangers, Simple Tips

Babies and young children have thinner skin than older kids and adults; their skin burns more quickly and at lower temperatures. In fact, around 120,000 children are treated in ERs for burn-related injuries each year. It takes your watchful eye and the steps below to prevent burns and scalds in children.


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    • Set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, or the manufacturer’s recommended setting, to prevent accidental scalding. Be sure to always test the hot water temperature after adjusting the gauges. 
    • Always check the water temperature with a temperature-sensing bath toy, or your wrist or elbow, before bathing a baby, toddler or young child. 
    • Install anti-scald devices on water faucets and shower heads. This will stop the flow of water if it gets too hot.

    • Do not leave a hot cooking area unattended. Keep children at least three feet away from stoves, ovens and backyard grills. 
    • Never carry or hold a child while using the stove. Instead, move a highchair into the kitchen, away from the stove, but within reach or sight of a parent. 
    • Use the back burners of the stove and turn pot handles away from the edge, to prevent hot spills. 
    • Set hot items, food and drinks away from the edge of counters, so that young children cannot reach them. 
    • Slowly open containers that have just been heated in the microwave. Steam can easily cause burns and scalds in children. 
    • Do not heat baby formula or baby milk in the microwave, as it can create hot spots. Instead, heat bottles by placing them in a cup or mug of warm water, and check the temperature on your wrist before feeding your baby. 
    • When children are old enough, teach them how to use a microwave safely, and to always use oven mitts and potholders when removing hot food.

    • Cover all unused electrical outlets with outlet covers. 
    • Never leave irons, hair dryers or other heat-producing appliances unattended. These items can heat quickly and stay warm after use. Always unplug them, and tuck the cord away or store them after you are done. 
    • Do not let young children use electrical appliances. Supervise older children when they are using these appliances.

    • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, including your basement. Place them near sleeping areas, and inside each bedroom. 
    • Keep flammable materials away from space heaters and candles. Make sure space heaters are turned off and candles are blown out before you leave the room or go to sleep. 
    • Install safety barriers around ovens, fireplaces and furnaces. Keep in mind that glass screens can take a long time to cool down. 
    • Store matches, lighters and other flammable materials, such as gasoline, in a safe place, or high up out of your child’s reach and sight. Teach them to never play with these things. 
    • Learn more about fire safety and how to keep little ones safe from burns here.

Did You Know?

Illustration of bathtub with steam rising from it.

Hot bath water causes more than half of all scalds in children.

- Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital