Burn safety: Protect your child from burns

Children learn by touching things, including those that can be dangerous. Promote burn safety by taking these important child-safety measures.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Burn safety is a foreign concept to most young explorers. In fact, one of the most difficult lessons young children might learn is that some things — such as stoves, radiators and flickering flames — can be painfully hot. If children play with matches or lighters, the threat can extend to the entire family. Take burn safety precautions to prevent injuries and dangerous situations.

Burn safety at home

Many ordinary things in a home — from bath water and hot food to electrical outlets — can cause childhood burns. To prevent burns, follow these burn safety tips:

  • Reduce water temperature. Set the thermostat on your hot water heater to below 120 F (48.9 C). Always test the water temperature before your child gets in the tub. Aim for bath water around 100 F (38 C).
  • Avoid hot spills. Don't cook, drink or carry hot beverages or soup while holding a child. Keep hot foods and liquids away from table and counter edges. Don't use tablecloths or placemats, which young children can pull down. When you're using the stove, use back burners and turn the handles of your pots and pans toward the rear of the stove. Avoid leaving food cooking on the stove unattended.
  • Establish 'no' zones. Block access to the stove and fireplace, and make space heaters and hot water heaters inaccessible.
  • Unplug irons. Store items designed to get hot, such as clothes irons, unplugged and out of reach.
  • Test food temperature. Food or liquids warmed in a microwave might heat unevenly. Never warm a baby's bottle in the microwave.
  • Choose a cool-water humidifier or vaporizer. If you use a hot-steam vaporizer, keep it out of reach.
  • Address outlets and electrical cords. Cover unused electrical outlets with safety caps. Inserting a fork, key or other metal object into an outlet could result in an electrical burn. Keep electrical cords and wires out of the way so that children don't chew on them. Replace damaged, brittle or frayed electrical cords.

Also, check product labels to make sure mattresses and pajamas meet federal flammability standards.

April 10, 2014 See more In-depth