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« our campaigns | Keeping your children safe from Burns and Scalds

The first step in helping to prevent kids from being burned is to understand these common causes of burns:

  • Liquid injuries (usually scalds) from steam, hot bath water, tipped-over coffee cups, hot foods, cooking fluids, etc.
  • Contact with flames or hot objects (from the cooker, iron, curling tongs or straightners, etc.)
  • Chemical burns from swallowing things, like drain cleaner or watch batteries, or spilling chemicals, such as bleach, onto the skin.
  • Electrical burns from biting on electrical cords or sticking fingers or objects in electrical outlets, etc.
  • Overexposure to the sun

Teach your children not to play with lighters or matches. Children are often the cause and victims of fires, and should not be allowed access to matches or cigarette lighters. Consider getting a lockable box, and keeping matches and lighters locked up.

In the kitchen:

Kitchen equipment, cooking, food and drink, are responsible for more than half of all burns and scolds.  Follow these safety tips to keep your child out of harm’s way:

  • Keep children out of the kitchen, if possible, when you’re cooking
  • Keep children away from the front of the oven – the door can get very hot
  • Use a kettle with a short or curly flex and keep it well back from the edge of the kitchen work top
  • Turn the saucepan handles towards the back of the cooker, and use the back rings where possible
  • Teach children over the age of seven to use kitchen appliances safely – like the toaster and the microwave
  • As children get older, they can also be taught to pour safely from the kettle and use the oven.

Hot Drinks – 15 minutes after they have been made, hot drinks can still scald young children.  To guard against this:

  • Never drink tea or coffee while you are holding a baby or young child
  • Keep hot drinks out of reach of babies and toddlers
  • Never pass hot drinks over the heads of babies or children

In the bathroom

  • When you run a bath always put cold water in first then add hot water (be extra careful in summer months when the cold water may be extremely hot due to high external temperatures)
  • Always test the bath water with your elbow before bathing your child – the water should feel neither hot or cold

In the bedroom

  • A hair straightener can get as hot as an iron and can still seriously burn young skin eight minutes after being unplugged
  • Store hair straightners out of reach of children immediately after use – ideally use the specially designed cool bags provided with certain makes.

Outdoors

  • Keep children away from barbeques – even after you’ve finished using them
  • Do not let your children near fireworks or garden candles.
  • If they are playing outside in the sun make sure that they are covered in sunscreen cream with a rating between 15 – 30 SPF.

If your child has a burn or scald:

  • Flood the injured area immediately with cool water for 10 – 15 minutes
  • If material is sticking to the skin, don’t try to remove it – this needs to be done by a medical professional
  • Don’t touch the injured area or burst any blisters – this can cause infection
  • Loosely cover the burn or wound – cling film is ideal but don’t wrap it around, just lay it loosely on top
  • Don’t put any creams, ointments, grease, antiseptic spray or plasters on the injury
  • Any burn or scald larger than a postage stamp should also be seen by a doctor.

Electrical safety

In addition to their tiny fingers, children will find any number of household items to stick into the outlet – most often hairpins or keys.  This innocent exploration can lead to first- or second-degree electrical burns, since a child’s skin is thinner and easily conducts electricity.  In some instances, the electrical shock can be fatal.

As soon as a child starts to move around you need to begin teaching them to stay aware from electrical outlets, cords and appliances.  Teach your children that electricity and water do not mix. 

In order to protect your children you should also consider the following:

    • Are all unused outlets covered with safety plugs?
    • Are all major electrical appliances grounded?
    • Have cord holders been used to keep longer cords fastened against walls?
    • Have you checked for and removed other potential electrical fire hazards, such as overloaded electrical sockets and electrical wires running under carpets?
    • Are televisions, computers, and stereo equipment positioned against walls?

Electrical safety tips:

  • Don’t remove a plug from a power point by pulling on the cord: pull the plug instead.
  • Never plug adaptors into adaptors and avoid using adaptors filled with plugs where possible.
  • Switch off electrical items that are not in regular use at the plug. When going away, or on holiday, for any length of time make sure to switch off and unplug electrical items. Items left plugged in can be a fire risk, and waste energy, if left on standby.
  •  Do not use any electrical items in the bathroom unless specifically designed for use there, e.g. shavers and electric toothbrushes.  Even with these items you must be careful to avoid plugging and unplugging them with wet hands or immersing the items in water.
  • Check electrical items regularly for any signs of damage to the unit or to the flex.
  • Appliances and electronic devices have protective insulated cords and coverings to keep you from contacting the electricity inside – if a cord is frayed, get it repaired by a qualified electrician or replace it. 
  • Always turn off the electricity at the mains if carrying out any electrical repairs (all repairs should be done by qualified electricians).
  • Consider safety standards when buying electrical items.  Look for items that have fitted, three pronged plugs (UK style), to avoid the need for adaptors or the risk of people inserting things into sockets in order to force the plug into the socket.
  • Use the correct wattage light bulb for all light fittings.