Preventing Burn Injuries in Children

Fires and other accidents in and around your home may result in burn injuries or fatalities to your child. In addition to fires, chemicals, scalding water, and electrical appliances may also cause burns.

These tips can help prevent burn injuries, increase burn awareness, and promote safety.

To prevent burns at home

  • Regularly check electrical plugs and cords for dirt or fraying. Put covers on electrical outlets that children can reach.

  • Keep appliances unplugged when not in use.

  • If you have a toddler or small child at home, don't use a tablecloth. The child may pull on the corner of the tablecloth, causing potentially hot objects to fall on them.

  • Teach your child what to do in case of a house fire. Practice your exit strategy and teach them to stay out of the house once they exit. Instruct them how to call 911.

  • Teach your child how to stop, drop, and roll if their clothes catch on fire.

  • Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one.

  • Teach your child to stay away from lighters and matches. Keep these items out of a child's reach.

  • Before placing a child or infant in a bathtub, check the water temperature with your hand and wrist. Do not let children touch the faucet handles during a bath.

  • Set your water heater to 120°F or lower.

  • Check alternative heating devices for safe operation (electric space heaters or kerosene heaters).

  • Check smoke detector batteries and clean and test your smoke detectors once a month.

  • Change smoke detector batteries twice a year. Choose 2 dates that are easy to remember, such as when you change your clocks, or on a summer or winter holiday.

  • Store harmful chemicals and cleaners in an area where children will not be able to access them.

  • Before using a chimney or fireplace during the winter months, have them cleaned.

  • Always discard smoking materials in a deep or wet receptacle.

  • Don't overload electrical outlets.

  • During a power outage, use flashlights instead of candles.

  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and garage. Make sure family members know its location. Check it periodically to make sure it stays in good working order. Replace it if necessary.

To prevent burns when cooking

  • When working with a hot liquid, keep your child safely away from the source.

  • When cooking with hot oil or a deep fryer, keep your child a safe distance from the source.

  • When cooking, keep pot handles turned inward on the stovetop and away from the edge of the stove.

  • If you use a microwave to heat your child's food, test the temperature before giving it to your child.

  • Heating formula or milk in a microwave can be dangerous since the liquid does not heat uniformly. Some portions may be hotter than others. Use a bottle warmer as a safer means to warm infant formula and milk.

  • If you are cooking on the stove or in the microwave, don't hold your child as you remove items from these appliances.

  • Before using barbecues or grills, clean them of grease buildup and use lighter fluid sparingly.

To prevent burns when out and about

  • Have your child use a sunblock with an SPF of at least 15 whenever they are in the sun. Use sunblock even on cloudy days. Apply sunblock 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply sunblock every 2 hours or after swimming and sweating. Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. Use protective clothing and shade. If protective clothing and shade are not possible, you can apply sunscreen to small areas of the body, such as the baby’s face and back of hands.

  • Don't let children play with fireworks.

  • Encourage children to wear shoes in the summer and not walk on hot asphalt or hot sand.

  • When traveling, choose hotels or motels that are protected by both smoke alarms and a fire sprinkler system. Know where hotel and motel exits are in case of a fire.

  • Train your children to identify exits in public places, theaters, concert halls, and hotels as soon as they enter the buildings.

  • During Halloween, make sure that your child is wearing a flame-retardant costume.

Christmas decoration safety

Use these tips for Christmas safety:

  • Check that electrical cords are not frayed

  • Check tree lights and decorations.

  • Keep trees well-watered.

  • Unplug all lights when leaving home for any length of time.

  • Don't block an exit with Christmas decorations.

Online Medical Reviewer: Liora C Adler MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2023
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