Among children under 14, unintentional injury is a top cause of death. Among the leading causes of accidental injuries in children are burns, drowning, choking, falls, poisonings and suffocation.
Burns and fires among children and adults are the fifth most common cause of accidental deaths. Around 3,500 children and adults die due to burns and fires every year.
Other things to know about burn injuries, particularly in children, include:
- Around 75% of all scalding burns sustained by children could have been prevented.
- Children and toddlers are more often burned because of scalding rather than flames.
- Most children four and younger hospitalized for injuries related to burns suffer from scald burns or contact burns.
- Burns from hot tap water lead to more deaths and hospitalizations than any other hot liquids.
- While burns are still a leading cause of injury and death, the rates have declined over the past three decades for various reasons, including the increased use of smoke detectors, decreases in smoking, and new water heaters that can be preset at lower temperatures.
The specific risk factors most relevant to children can vary depending on age. For example, in children under five, burn injuries are most likely to stem from tipping over scalding liquids in the kitchen. In children between the ages of five and 10, the risks are often associated with scalding water in the bathroom or increased risk-taking behaviors. Teens are more likely to be injured because of group activities involving flammable products, like fireworks.
The following are essential tips to help reduce the risk of burn injuries in children.
1. Preventing Scalds in the Bathroom
One of the best things you can do to prevent scalding in the bathroom is to have the water delivered to your home’s faucets at a specific maximum temperature. The temperature should be no higher than around 120 degrees. This isn’t a temperature appropriate for bathing, and cold water still needs to be mixed in to get it right, but it can reduce the risk of scalding.
You should always run cold water first and test bath water before you put your child in. You should never leave a child alone in the bathroom, and if the bathroom isn’t being used, keep the door closed.
You can also use tap covers to prevent kids from turning them on unsupervised.
Teach your kids to always turn on the cold water first as well.
2. Avoiding Kitchen and Cooking Injuries
Your kids shouldn’t be alone in the kitchen if there’s anything hot on the counter or cooking. Keep the handles of any pots and pans turned toward the back of your stove, and don’t let appliance cords dangle over the counter’s edge.
If your kids are helping you cook, don’t let them wear loose clothing, especially if you have a gas stove.
Don’t keep any hot drinks or food around the edges of tables or counters, and don’t use tablecloths or placemats if you have young children because they can get pulled down.
3. Fire Prevention
To avoid accidental fires, keep matches and lighters away from children. Be mindful of candles when burning them, and always put them out before leaving the room.
Use space heaters with caution, keeping them a minimum of three feet away from furniture, bedding, drapes, and anything else flammable.
Get your fireplace cleaned annually and store flammable liquids in their original, sealed containers, away from heat or flames, as well as children.
4. Burn Safety
Don’t leave anything unattended with a flame, like fire pits, campfires, or grills. You should also avoid letting children play with fireworks or sparklers or even play near them.
5. Other Tips to Prevent Injuries in Children
A few other things to remember include:
- Check your cords and electrical plugs periodically to ensure they aren’t fraying or dirty.
- Teach children how to put out a fire.
- If you use a microwave to heat food, test it before you give it to your child.
- Don’t hold your child when removing food from the microwave or stovetop.
- Check your smoke detector batteries and test them often.
- Have a strategy for what your family will do in case of a house fire.
- Stay abreast of toy safety
Finally, if you’re traveling, make sure the hotel or accommodations where you’re staying have smoke alarms and a fire sprinkler system. Quickly familiarize yourself with the exits in case of a fire.