Here are some great tips and advice for keeping your little ones safe from burns and scalds around the home and outdoors.

Top Tip

  1. Delicate skins means easier burns for babies and children
  2. A child’s skin is 15 times thinner than adults
  3. They feel the heat much quicker – be that sun, hot water, appliances
  4. Children burn or scald at lower temperatures than adults
  5. The scald or burn will cover much more of their small bodies
  6. Hot drinks cause the most scalds to young children
  7. A hot drink can still scald 15 minutes later
  8. Hair straighteners are a growing concern as the number of burns is increasing. Keep them out of reach, even when cooling down

Safety tipsLiving room

Fire guards:

Ensure these are in place and fixed to the wall for all types of fire, be that wood burning, gas, electric or halogen.

Matches, cigarette lighters and candles:

Children may find these fascinating, but keep them out of reach and sight. Many lighters are child-resistant, but wily toddlers can often operate them anyway.

Kitchen

Cookers:

Ask your little one to move out of the way when opening low-level oven and grills.

Hobs and hotplates:

These will stay hot long after you’ve turned them off. Remind your child not to touch them every time, as they’re likely to forget or be curious even if you’ve told them previously.

Saucepans:

Turn handles away from you, towards the back of your worktop and use the back rings whenever possible. Hot splashes can be a risk as well.

Hot drinks:

Ensure hot drinks are placed well out of reach. Kettle cords should be tucked away to stop tempted hands from pulling on them. Look out for kettles with a curly flex power cord.

Microwaves:

Babies bottles can heat up unevenly and can continue to heat once taken out of the microwave. This can leave hot spots of milk that can scald a baby’s mouth. Shake the bottle well after warming and test of the back of your hand. Ideally, use a warmer or a jug of hot water instead.

Irons:

With temperatures of around 220°C they can cause severe burns. Always store away from sight after use, out of reach, with cords tucked away. Irons can retain their heat for up to 15 minutes after switching off.

Washing machine tablets:

Liquid-tabs are a hazard if ingested. As well as posing a poisoning risk, they are also caustic and can cause internal chemical burns. Keep them locked out of reach.

Bedroom

Hair straighteners, curling tongs, and hairdryers:

Hair straighteners can still burn 30 minutes after being switched off. Leave them to cool out of reach. We’d advise using a heat proof over or silicone pouch.

Bathroom

Cold before hot:

You can make sure bath time is a safe time by running the cold tap first, then add the hot slowly until it is at the correct temperature for your child.

The elbow test:

This is the quickest way to check the temperature is right for your child. Dipping your elbow into the water will provide a good indicator of how it will feel for your baby or toddler. It shouldn’t feel hot or cold.

Thermostatic mixing valves (TMVs):

These devices centrally control the temperature of the hot tap, so that you can have a nice hot bath, and can prevent children being scalded from very hot water. Some newer houses and flats have TMVs already installed on the taps. If you don’t have them, you can get them installed by a professional.

Watch out!

Many scalds happen when a child gets into the bath before it’s ready, they turn on the hot tap when they’re in the bath, or lean over to pick up a floating toy and fall in the bath. Keep a watchful eye on your little one.

Outdoors

Barbecues:

The coals stay hot for a long time, even when all the food has gone. Disposable barbecues can be tipped into a bucket of cold water to help them cool quicker.

Bonfires:

Keep young children a safe distance from the fire and supervise them carefully.

Fireworks:

Children under five shouldn’t hold sparklers and don’t really understand why they might be dangerous. Try placing the sparkler in a carrot, so they have something large and safe to hold, and so they’re not confused about which end to pick up.

Sun safe

Skin does not have to be peeling or blistering to be burned.  If the skin is pink or red it is sunburnt.

Spend time in the shade when the sun is at its strongest, between 11am and 3pm. Cover up with a t-shirt, hat and sun glasses. A long-sleeved t-shirt helps protect delicate skin and a hat with a brim shades the face and back of neck.

Use a sunscreen on the parts you can’t cover. Put lots of cream on and reapply often, especially if your child has been in the water. Remember that sun cream does not give 100% protection and that clothing and shade help too. Look out for creams with at least SPF 15 and 4 stars

For more information check out the link to Sunsmart at Cancer Research UK here.

Ask the expert

If you’d like to know more about burns and scalds, ask one of our experts. Contact us for more information here.