Every day nine children in England are seen at A&E as a result of a burn or scald, 95% of which happen in the home. Most are caused in the day-to-day situations that many parents don’t anticipate, like children reaching for hot coffee or stepping on hair straighteners.
Babies and young children’s skin is far more delicate than adults so can burn a lot more easily. Many of us would be surprised at the temperature that is still hot enough to burn an infant. For example:
- Hair straighteners can remain hot enough to burn a young child 15 minutes after they have been unplugged.
- A hot drink can take up to 15 minutes to cool down to a temperature that will not burn a child.
- When running a bath for a young child the water should never be hotter than 38 C.
The Child Accident Prevention Trust has produced essential advice for parents and carers on how to prevent burn and scald injuries, covering common dangers within the home.
In the kitchen:
- Always turn saucepan handles inwards away from where little hands can grab them.
- Use a kettle with a short, flex cord so that it can’t be too far away from the plug.
- Microwaves don’t heat as evenly as an oven so avoid heating up babies milk in them as there can be hot spots even it if feels cool to touch.
In the bedroom:
- Hair straighteners and curling tongs are one of the main causes of burns. Always unplug and leave to cool down out of reach, such as on a high shelf or in a heat-proof pouch.
- Candles and matches/lighters are intriguing to small children. Never leave them unattended with a lit candle, even if you think they can’t reach it. Matches and lighters should be always stored securely away, out of sight and reach of young children.
In the bathroom:
- Run the cold water first and then add hot water until it gets to the correct temperature. Dipping your elbow into the water gives a good idea of how it will feel for your baby or toddler.
- Thermostatic mixing valves (TMVs) control the temperature of the hot tap and can be installed on most taps.
In the living room:
- If you have an open fire always have a fire guard around it as even if it doesn’t look hot it could burn a child or you.
- When you finish ironing make sure the iron is left high up as it cools and ensure the lead is also pushed back so can’t be grabbed and pulled down.
In the garden:
- BBQs, whether gas or charcoal, remain hot long after you have finished using them so make sure that you secure grills away or cool them down quicker with cold water.
- With Halloween and the 5th November approaching make sure you teach your child about how to act safely around bonfires and fireworks and never leave them unsupervised.
For more information and advice on how to avoid burns and scalds visit the Child Accident Prevention Trust website. Immediate first aid advice on what to do if your child is accidently burned or scalded can be found on the NHS website.