There are 16,000 burn injuries to children each year. Five hundred children die each year from their burns. Most burns (80 percent) are accidental. Kids under age two are at the greatest risk. Three hundred children are treated daily for burns. There are three types of burns: first degree (least severe) where the skin is red, second degree (more severe) where the skin blisters, and third degree (most severe) where the skin chars black or white.
Parents should set their water heater at a maximum heat of 120 degrees to avoid scald burns. Hot water causes a quarter of the burns in children. Burns depend upon water temperature and time. In hot water, adults will burn in 10 minutes at 120 degrees, in 5 minutes at 122 degrees, in 1 minute at 127 degrees, in 10 seconds at 130 degrees, and in one second at 140 degrees. Kids have more sensitive skin. Never leave a child unattended in a bathtub or around water. Unfortunately, 20 percent of burns in children are intentional, with hot water immersion as the most common injury. This is not an appropriate disciplinary measure.
Causes of accidental burns include burns from cooking, hot oil, and spilling hot objects. Never hold your child while cooking or carry him as you carry hot liquids. Children can pull hot objects (flat irons, steam irons) down upon themselves. They can pull hot pans off the stove or hot food off the table. They are curious and can reach out to touch candle flames. Do not place hot liquids or food on the edge of tables or counters. Do not hold your child while drinking hot liquids or while smoking.
Create a kid-safe zone, where your child can play safely without risk of burns. This may be in a pack-and-play or in a gated area. If kids must be in the kitchen while you cook, place them securely in a highchair where they are visible but away from any burn risk. Cook on the back burners of stoves and turn the pot-handles to the side. Always supervise older children as they learn to cook.
Check the temperature of bathwater with your wrist before placing your child in the bath. It should feel warm rather than hot. Test food temperature before feeding a child. Food heated in a microwave can heat unevenly. Never warm a baby’s bottle in a microwave. Choose a cool-mist humidifier. Cover outlets and keep electrical cords contained. Check the temperature of car seat buckles and a use cloth car seat cover. Check playground equipment before playtime. Never allow children to play with fireworks or sparklers. Safely contain candles, matches, and lighters. Supervise your children closely around campfires, grills, and fireplaces.
Ensure that your smoke detectors are working properly. Test fire alarms monthly and change batteries yearly. Choose fire-resistant fabrics for pajamas and mattresses. Teach stop, drop, and roll to children to put out clothing fires. Get a fire extinguisher and learn to use it. Have a fire plan and practice fire drills with your kids.
Remember, sunburn is a type of burn. Avoid the sun at peak times (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) and always use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least thirty or higher. Reapply every 1-2 hours, or more often if swimming or sweating. Use an umbrella and a hat. Babies younger than 6 months of age should avoid direct sunlight.
Treat a minor burn by applying cool water. Next loosely cover the burn with a non-stick bandage. Children’s acetaminophen (dosed by weight) may help with discomfort. If there are blisters, call your pediatric healthcare provider. Do not apply anything to the burn unless recommended by your pediatric healthcare provider. In case of a severe or extensive burn or breathing difficulty, dial 911.
Be proactive in preventing burns in children.