Infants, toddlers and preschoolers are among the most at-risk populations when it comes to serious scalds and other similar burns. According to the American Burn Association, about 21,000 children received treatment for scalding burns in 2003. Scald burns in children account for about 65 percent of all burn injuries for children under four; treatment for these injuries costs about $44 million each year nationwide.
Young children have thinner skin than their parents or even older siblings, so even a short exposure to an extremely hot liquid can lead to critical burn injuries. Unfortunately, many do not yet understand the danger of hot stoves, coffee makers, kettles, or other appliances. At the same time, children have much less control over their environment than adults and are not always capable of recognizing and avoiding an unsafe situation where burns could occur.
The good news is that a great majority of scald injuries are preventable with the right precautions. If you have a young child in your family, these tips could save your child from the immense pain of a burn injury.
Be Aware of Bath Time Dangers
Parents often think of the drowning risks of bath time, but many fail to consider the dangers of hot water. Some tips to ensure the bath water is not too warm for your youngster include:
- Run cold water first, then add warm water to reach a comfortable temperature
- Test the water temperature with your elbow, which offers a better indicator of heat than your hand
- Face young children away from the knobs and tap while bathing, and at least an arm’s length away
- Use child-proof covers to prevent them from turning on the water when you are not present
- Keep the bathroom door closed to discourage attempting to turn on the water
Do not forget to check your hot water heater, as well. Setting it at 120°-125°F can help to prevent most scalds while also allowing adults to take hot showers. According to a study published in Injury Prevention, more than 80 percent of homes have their water heaters set at 130°F or higher, which can cause full-thickness burns with only 30 seconds of exposure in children.
Take Precautions in the Kitchen
The kitchen is the most dangerous place in the house for curious toddlers and preschoolers. Keeping young children out of the kitchen is the best idea, although it is not always practical. When possible, use baby gates to keep children out of the kitchen.
If you are watching your child while also preparing a meal, consider putting babies in a high chair or playpen, and sitting older children down at the table with a craft or other activity to occupy their time.
Be Proactive When Cooking
Children are naturally curious, and that curiosity extends to the things that happen on top of the stove, in the oven, and with other kitchen appliances. For this reason, it pays to take extra precautions when cooking or preparing hot drinks. Best practices include:
- Using a stove guard to prevent children from reaching the stove top
- Turning the handles of pots, pans, and even the coffee maker carafe away from the edge of the stove or countertop
- Install a child-proof lock on the oven to prevent children using the door as a stool
- Buy child-proof guards to prevent children from turning on a burner if your stove has knobs on the front
Be Careful with Hot Drinks
Hot drinks are a leading cause of scald injuries in both children and adults. Hot coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or even milk can cause serious burns in only a few seconds. This is especially true of many store-bought coffee drinks, which are often extremely hot.
While many parents enjoy drinking coffee or tea, it is paramount to keep these drinks out of the reach of young children.
Avoid putting them in the cup holder on the stroller, where even a small bump could cause the beverage to splash onto your child. Lastly, avoid drinking hot drinks while carrying or holding young children. Accidents happen, but it is better to spill your hot coffee on your own lap than on your child.
After a Child Burn Injury
We know that accidents happen, even to the most careful parents. After your child suffers a burn injury, you may be at a loss for where to turn. It can be a truly terrifying experience, but we can help. Burn Victims Resource has information about treatment options, support groups, school reentry programs, and your legal options if your child’s burn injury was the result of another party’s negligence.
Give us a call today at 844-549-8774 to speak with a lawyer referral specialist who can connect you with a lawyer.