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Burn & Scald Prevention Tips


Every day, 300 young children with burn injuries are taken to emergency rooms. They were not even near a flame. The children are victims of scalds.

Clearly, this is a real danger. Scald burns (caused by hot liquids, steam or foods) are the most common burn injury among children age 4 and younger. In 2003, U.S. hospitals treated an estimated 16,000 children under 5 for scalds, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. And, mortality rates from scalds are highest for children under age 4.

While the injuries and the numbers are distressing, even more disturbing is the fact that many of these burns could have been prevented. Roanoke Fire-EMS, Shriners Hospitals for Children® and Shriners International are addressing scald injuries as part of their Burn Awareness campaign.

How Scalds Happen

Ninety-five percent of scalds occur in residences. Scald burns are typically related to ordinary activities – bathing, cooking and eating – and often happen to children because of a lapse in adult supervision or a lack of protective measures. Youngsters may not understand or even be aware of potential dangers of hot liquids (especially water) and foods; they simply trust adults to keep them safe.

In addition, young children have thinner skin that burns more quickly than adults’. People of all ages can be burned in 30 seconds by a flowing liquid that is 130° F; at 140° F, it takes only five seconds; at 160° F, it only takes one second. For children under 5, these temperatures can cause a burn in half the time.

Quick Facts about Scald Injuries

¨ Every day, more than 300 young children with scald burns are taken to emergency rooms.

¨ The mortality rates from scald burn injuries are highest for children under the age of 4.

¨ Most scald injuries in children occur while bathing.

Preventing Scalds

According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, 4,000 to 5,000 children are scalded each year, most while bathing. Continuous supervision of young children is the most important factor in preventing tap-water scald burns, but there are additional simple preventive measures that can be taken, including:

¨ Lower the temperature settings on water heaters to 120° F (49° C) or less.

¨ Install anti-scald devices on water faucets and shower heads.

¨ When filling the bathtub, turn on cold water first. Mix in warmer water carefully.

¨ Check the water temperature by rapidly moving your hand through the water. If the water feels hot to an adult, it is too hot for a child.

¨ Use knob covers on faucets.

¨ Scalds also occur in the kitchen and dining room. Many of these can be prevented by:

¨ Using oven mitts or hot pads when cooking.

¨ Turning pot handles inward.

¨ Thoroughly stirring all microwaved food.

¨ Never heating baby bottles in a microwave.

¨ Not using deep fryers around children.

These suggestions may seem obvious, but given the statistics, they can not be repeated too often. Burn Awareness Week is a perfect time to take advantage of the complimentary burn prevention materials available from Shriners Hospitals for Children. These include burn prevention posters, coloring book, fact sheets and stickers. For more information, check out or