Youngsters tend to explore their world through touch, which can put them in contact with dangerously hot surfaces. Many parents have learned the hard way that a young child’s impulse to explore combined with relaxed parental vigilance can lead to a painful, or even life-threatening, burn.
Here are some helpful hints that can help parents turn their home into a burn-free zone:
Prevent bathtub burns
The otherwise pleasant, relaxing experience of bath time can take a painful—or even deadly—turn in seconds if a child is accidentally immersed in scalding water. To help prevent hot water burns, set the temperature of your water heater no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, parents should always test the temperature of the water by touch before placing their child in the bath. As an additional safeguard, parents should consider installing anti-scald devices on the bathtub faucets and showerhead.
Most importantly, parents should never leave a young child unattended in the bathtub for any length of time. Make sure you have all necessary bath time supplies handy ahead of time so you don’t have to step out of the bathroom to retrieve a forgotten item. If you must respond to a ringing telephone or doorbell or any other distraction during bath time, take the child with you.
Handle hot beverages with care
Something as seemingly innocuous as a cup of coffee or tea or a bowl of soup can burn a child severely if hot enough. Avoid preparing, drinking, or carrying a hot beverage while holding a child. Any unexpected movement on the child’s part could cause hot liquid to spill or splash onto his or her skin. When setting down a hot beverage, place it far away from the edge of the table or countertop. However, do not place it on a tablecloth, placemat, or any other moveable item that the child can reach and pull down.
Practice safe stove use
When cooking on the stove with a young child in the home, use only the back burners and always turn the handles of pots and pans away from the front of the stove so he or she can’t reach up and touch a hot burner or pull down a cooking utensil filled with scalding liquid. Of course, cooking food should never be left unattended on the stove. It’s also a good idea to establish a “no-go” zone around the stove—an area surrounding the stove that the child is not allowed to enter. To help delineate this area, tape can be applied to the floor at the desired boundary. Other heat-producing appliances that could cause burns, such as space heaters, hot-steam vaporizers, registers, woodstoves, fireplaces, furnaces, and water heaters, should be designated off limits or somehow cordoned/screened off so they are inaccessible, as well.
Unplug that iron!
A hot clothes iron left unattended atop a rickety, top-heavy ironing board is a disaster waiting to happen when young children are in the home. When not in use, unplug your iron and store it safely out of reach. The same applies to other small appliances that are designed to heat up, such as curling irons and hair straighteners.
Don’t forget matches, lighters, and candles
The temptation to play with matches, lighters, and other flame sources is a powerful and perennial one for kids. Keep these items locked away out of reach. If you burn candles, be sure to place them out of reach and extinguish them before leaving the room.
Store chemicals safely
Remember, sources of flame and heat aren’t the only potential burn hazards in the home. Many common household chemicals—in addition to presenting a poisoning hazard—can cause severe burns if they come into contact with the skin. Be sure to store all chemicals in a locked cabinet out of reach of children.
Don’t think it can’t happen!
Most importantly, never assume your child isn’t curious about the burn hazards in your home. You could find out the hard way that you assumed wrong. ❦