December 7, 2015

Many injuries caused by burns involve no fire, especially injuries involving children.


It’s time to bake Christmas cookies, and your little elves want to help. Keep the wonderful tradition — and all the other ones that involve cooking — but also keep in mind the hazards of the kitchen.

Burns are one of the most common injuries to children. When we think about burns, we often think about house fires, but many burns, especially those to children, do not involve fire at all. Burns can also be caused by contact with hot liquids or steam, or by contact with hot objects, electricity or chemicals.

“At this time of year, we all look forward to getting together with family and friends, oftentimes in the kitchen, preparing a meal, or gathered around the fireplace or fire pit. When children are present in these areas and with many potential distractions, vigilance is especially important to avoid burn injury,” said Reuben A. Bueno Jr., M.D., Chief of Pediatric Plastic Surgery at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Keep these tips in mind in the kitchen and the rest of your home:

  • Watch children closely in the kitchen. It takes less than a second for a hot dish or pot to burn a child.
  • Keep hot food and drink away from the edges of tables and countertops.
  • Never carry a child while holding hot items.
  • Never let young children use the oven or microwave.
  • Never leave irons, hair dryers or curling irons on when not in use, and always keep out of reach of small children.
  • Set your water heater thermostat to no more than 120°F (49°C).
  • Consider installing anti-scald devices on water faucets to stop the flow of water if it gets too hot.
  • Always test bath water with your hand or a bath thermometer before bathing children, and be sure to supervise your children while they are bathing.
  • Lock up matches, lighters, gasoline and other chemicals.


More safety tips are available on Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt’s Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program website.