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.
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.
These burn safety measures can protect children from outdoor hazards:
- Watch grills and fire pits. Don't allow children to play near these potential hazards.
- Check car seats. Before placing your child in a car seat, check for hot straps or buckles. If you park in direct sunlight, cover the car seat with a towel or blanket.
- Forgo backyard fireworks. Leave fireworks, including sparklers, to trained professionals.
Take these simple precautions to prevent fires:
- Lock up matches and lighters. Store matches, lighters and flammable liquids in a locked cabinet or drawer. Teach children that matches and lighters aren't toys.
- Be careful with candles and cigarettes. Keep burning candles out of reach, and extinguish candles before leaving the room. If you smoke, avoid smoking in the house — especially in bed. Be sure cigarettes are completely out before throwing them away.
- Use space heaters with care. Keep space heaters at least three feet (about one meter) away from bedding, drapes, furniture and other flammable materials. Keep children away from space heaters. Never leave a space heater on when you go to sleep or place a space heater near someone who's sleeping.
- Keep your fireplace clean. An annual cleaning and inspection can help prevent a chimney fire.
In case of emergency, keep fire extinguishers handy throughout your home. Teach children to leave a burning building by crawling under the smoke, and to stop, drop and roll if clothes catch fire. And be sure to install and maintain smoke alarms on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas. Being prepared for an emergency can be the best safety tool of all.
April 10, 2014
- Kleinman RE, ed. Pediatric Nutrition Handbook. 6th ed. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009:61.
- Shelov SP, et al. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. 5th ed. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books; 2009:65.
- Baby-proofing your home. National Safety Council. http://www.nsc.org/news_resources/Resources/Documents/Baby-Proofing_Your_Home.pdf. Accessed Oct. 31, 2013.
- CPSC warns of hazards from furnaces, space heaters and fireplaces. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. http://www.cpsc.gov/en/newsroom/news-releases/2006/cpsc-warns-of-hazards-from-furnaces-space-heaters-and-fireplaces/. Accessed Oct. 31, 2013.
- Teaching children fire safety. U.S. Fire Administration. http://www.usfa.fema.gov/citizens/parents/curious.shtm. Accessed Oct. 31, 2013.
- Bedroom fire safety helps you sleep sound at night: A factsheet on bedroom fire prevention. U.S. Fire Administration. http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/downloads/pdf/fswy2.pdf. Accessed Oct. 31, 2013.
- Home fire prevention and preparedness. National Safety Council. http://www.nsc.org/news_resources/Resources/Documents/Home_Fire_Prevention_and_Preparedness.pdf. Accessed Oct. 31, 2013.
- Candle safety tips. National Fire Protection Association. http://www.nfpa.org/safety%20information/for%20consumers/causes/candles/candle%20safety%20tips.aspx. Accessed Oct. 31, 2013.
- Fire safety tips. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/firesafety.htm. Accessed Oct. 31, 2013.
- Avoiding household burns. American College of Emergency Physicians. http://www.emergencycareforyou.org/YourHealth/InjuryPrevention/Default.aspx?id=25990. Accessed Oct. 31, 2013.