How to Protect Children from Burns and Scalds

Burns and scalds are among the most common causes of serious injury among young children. Children need to be prevented from touching cooking stoves, boiling water, hot food and hot irons. Burns often cause serious injury and permanent scarring, and some are fatal. The great majority of these injuries are preventable but care needs to be taken; it takes but a few seconds for a burn injury to occur.

Steps

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    Keep young children away from sources of fire. This includes fires, matches, candles and cigarettes. Teach children not to play with matches or lighters and to bring them to adults straight away if they find them.
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    Keep stoves on a flat, raised surface out of the reach of children. If an open cooking fire is used, it should be made on a raised mound of clay, not directly on the ground.
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    Turn the handles of all cooking pots away from the reach of children. a curious or energetic child can easily knock over a cooking pot. Do not leave hot dishes on the edge of tables either.
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    Keep steam away from children. The steam from boiling kettles or steaming pots is dangerously hot and can burn or scald easily.
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    Take care of objects sitting near or next to a fire or stove. Objects made of glass and metal can become very hot sitting next to a fire source. Take care to move any objects away before cooking or lighting a fire.
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    Keep all items that might start a fire out of the reach of young children. Such things to be careful with include petrol, paraffin, lamps, matches, candles, lighters, hot irons and electric cords.
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    Prevent access to electrical sockets. Children can be seriously injured if they put their fingers or other objects into electric sockets. Power sockets should be covered to prevent access.
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    Cover, move or remove electric wires. Electric wires should be kept out of children's reach. Bare electric wires are particularly dangerous.
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    Create safety barriers. If you cannot be sure that your child will not stay away from a fire or heat source, consider ways to create a barrier, such as a grill around a fire or a safety gate to keep a child out of the cooking area etc.
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    Keep hot drinks and liquids away from children. Don't let a child sit on your lap while you are drinking a hot drink. One bump can result in terrible scalds.
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    Talk about the dangers of fire. Make sure that children understand the consequences of getting too close to flame or heat. Tell older children and encourage them to explain this to their younger siblings and other younger children.
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    Teach a child to drop and roll on the floor if his or her clothes catch on fire.

Tips

  • Choose natural fabrics for children. These are harder to ignite and burn than synthetics.
  • Do not let children wear loose-fitting clothing at night. Nightwear should fit snugly and pyjamas are best.
  • Ashes can take up to 5 days to cool. Be aware of this when disposing of them and bury them or place them in a metal container out of the reach of young children.
  • Always set a safe example for your children.
  • Hot drinks can keep their heat for up to 20 minutes after they are made. This means that they have the potential to scald a child for this amount of time.

Warnings

  • Always supervise children who are by an open fire, a gas fire or any heat source. Do not turn your back, even for a second!
  • Always take care of any object that heats up - irons, stoves, fireplaces, radiators etc. and keep them out of the reach of children.
  • Do not leave cooking unattended. Not only is there a potential for burning or scalding a child but there is a risk of fire.

Sources and Citations

  • Childsafe - source of information on teaching child to drop and roll, natural fabrics and not treating matches as toys

Article Info

Categories: Childhood Health | Stings Bites and Burns