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Pediatric Health

Protecting Your Family From Scald Burns

Preventing the #1 Cause of Burns

November 01, 2009
Every year, thousands of people, of all ages, are treated for burn-related injuries in hospital emergency rooms across the United States. In 2007, 42% of all admissions to Riley Hospital for Children's Burn Care Unit were due to complications from scald burns. Scald burns are the number one cause of burn injuries to children under the age of four. Children are at a higher risk of sustaining burn injuries due to their inability to control their environment or move away quickly, and children are especially susceptible to scald burns because their skin is thinner than adults causing it to burn more quickly, resulting in deeper and more severe burns.

These tips will help protect your child from scald burns:

Parental supervision at all times is critical in the prevention of scald burns.

Create a "safe area" in the kitchen where your child can play and be supervised while remaining a safe distance from the stove and sink.

While cooking, use back burners and turn pot handles toward the back of the stove to help prevent children from reaching up and pulling them down. Using a stove guard, which acts as a shield and attaches to the front of the stovetop may help prevent burns. Stove knob covers may also be purchased to help prevent children from turning on the stove.

Always stir and test food prior to serving to make sure it is a safe temperature. Microwaves may cook foods unevenly.

Keep hot food and drinks away from table edges and off tables with tablecloths. Young children can easily pull hot drinks and food on top of themselves, which may result in scald burns.

Never leave a child alone in a bathroom for any reason. A child can drown in as little as one inch of water so do not leave the room while filling the bathtub. Make sure to run the cool water before the hot water, as this will prevent scalding if your child accidentally falls in while the tub is filling. Always test the water and check for hot spots before your child gets in by using your elbow, wrist or spread fingers. The safest bathing temperature for most people is 100F (37C). Water thermometers can also be purchased to help determine whether the water is safe for bathing.

Adjust your water heater temperature to a safe level. Three out of 4 people do not know the safe setting for their water heater is 120F. 120F is the upper limit for safety; do not exceed 120F. For households with young children, elderly adults or people with disabilities, water heater temperatures should be set below 120F.

For more information on scald prevention and child safety products, contact the Riley Safety Store at (317)274-6565 or toll free at 1-888-365-2022.

Sarah Lauer, Riley Community Education and Child Advocacy

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