Whether minor or
serious, burns are painful. So we teach our kids not to play with matches
and tell them not to touch the stove. But burns don't come only from open
flames and hot objects. Liquids -- such as coffee, tea, soup and even a
hot bath -- can scald, causing serious burns. According to the Burn
Prevention Foundation, scalds are the number one cause of burn injury to
children under age 4.
Many scalding injuries could be prevented with a little foresight. Take
these precautions to make your home safer.
In the Kitchen
Never leave cooking unattended. Cook on the stove's rear burner
whenever possible and turn pot handles toward the rear of the stove, out
of the reach of young hands.
Keep young children out of the kitchen when you're handling hot
liquids. If possible, occupy toddlers in a playpen or a high chair,
where they can be supervised easily and restrained.
Don't drink hot liquids while holding your child. Children move fast
and can easily bump your cup or bowl, spilling burning liquid onto
themselves or you.
Keep the cords short on appliances such as electric teapots and
deep-fat fryers; long cords can be tripped over or pulled.
Don't use a tablecloth around young children, who may pull on it and
bring hot food down on themselves.
Don't let the microwave mislead you. It may not get hot to the touch,
but the foods and liquids we cook in it can cause serious burns. So when
you use your microwave, remember to:
Follow the printed instructions when microwaving packaged foods. If
the instructions say to not microwave the food, take the extra few
minutes to warm it conventionally.
Remove the lid carefully when taking a dish out of the microwave.
The steam that has built up inside the dish can cause a nasty burn.
Don't let children use the microwave until they're old enough to
follow directions and handle hot foods carefully. Even then, it's best
to supervise them.
Stir and test food before serving it to eliminate the quot;hot
spots" often caused by microwaving. This especially is important with
baby food. Don't use the microwave to warm a baby's bottle. The hot
spots could scald a tender young mouth.
In the Bathroom
Your hot water heater should be turned down as low as possible -- it
should never be above 120 degrees F. (If you have a dishwasher, consult
the operator's manual for the lowest effective water temperature
setting.) Water at 133 degrees F can cause third-degree burns in just 15
Test the water. Never put a baby or child in a bathtub before testing
the water yourself. Test the water with your elbow or the back of your
wrist -- not your hand, which isn't as sensitive. Water temperature
should be 100 degrees F or lower.
Never leave children unattended in the bath. Aside from the danger of
drowning, your child could receive a life-threatening scald in just a
few seconds if he or she manages to turn on the hot water.
If a scalding burn occurs, examine it to see what type of burn it is.
Your child may need to see a doctor immediately:
Check the burn to see if the skin is intact and whether the burned
area hurts when touched. The most serious burns are deeper ones with
loss of skin and sensation. Seek emergency treatment if you notice
discoloration under extensive areas of peeling skin.
Second- and third-degree burns leave skin blistered and charred.
These burns require immediate medical attention.
A first-degree burn leaves skin red and slightly swollen. If the burn
covers a large part of the body, you need to see a doctor immediately.
Otherwise, you can treat a first-degree burn at home by immersing it in
cold water and then covering it with burn ointment, petroleum jelly or a
thin layer of baking soda. Do not put butter, margarine or a greasy
substance on the burn. Loosely bandage the area, allowing exposure to