How to Prevent Burns & Scalds

Keeping the kids safe: how to prevent burn injuries


August 29, 2016

Parents must use caution throughout the home to ensure children do not get burn injuries. These tips are good reminders.


Each day in the United States, more than 300 children ages 19 and under are treated in emergency rooms for burn-related injuries, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and two children die of the same cause. With statistic like these, parents can’t be too cautious when it comes to preventing burns and scalds.

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt experts have pulled together simple tips to keep you and your family safe. Make sure that sitters, friends and any others taking care of your children know about your safety practices to ensure a safe home, even when you aren’t around.

In the kitchen

  • Keep handles of pots and pans pointed to the back of the stove. Place hot foods and liquids away from edge of the table or counter, where a child may reach.
  • Children are naturally curious and want to explore their environments. Eliminate these reachable hazards to greatly reduce the chance of a burn or scald.
  • Cook on rear burners whenever possible.
  • Don’t let cords from appliances dangle.
  • Never leave children unsupervised, especially when cooking (if age-appropriate).
  • Don’t wear loose clothing when cooking and never hold a child when preparing food or drinking hot liquids.
  • Create a “Kid-Free-Zone” of 3 feet around the stove. Using a visual representation such as painters’ tape will help children grasp this concept easier.
  • Keep clutter such as toys, shoes, papers and books, off of the floor. These items are a tripping hazard when handling or moving hot liquids in the kitchen.
  • Use caution when handling hot liquids from the microwave. Meals that require noodles to be microwaved with water pose a scald hazard from the steam and hot liquid. Kids should only use microwaves if tall enough to reach and safely remove the items inside.

In the bathroom

  • Check the water temperature with your hand or a bath thermometer before placing a child in the tub or shower. If it feels hot to you, then a child’s thin skin will feel it even more.
  • Never leave young children alone in the tub. Instruct any older siblings or sitters who help bathe younger children on safe bathing practices, using specific details.
  • Reduce the temperature of your water heater so the water is less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This will reduce potential scalds when children use a faucet unsupervised.

Other tips

  • Ensure that fires from camping, grilling or any other event are fully extinguished before leaving them unattended. Never allow children to play around these areas, as they can easily trip into coals that aren’t fully cooled, causing burns.
  • Make a habit of placing matches, gasoline and lighters in a safe place, out of children’s reach. Avoid novelty lighters or lighters that look like toys.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn (bedding and blankets, sofas and chairs, curtains, etc.). Make sure to turn them off when you leave the room and never leave them on while sleeping.

Visit Champ’s Corner Store on the second floor of Children’s Hospital for items to help reduce the chance of burns and scalds. Remember, there is no substitute for proper safety and supervision!