Scalds, burns and fires, oh my! Easy tips to keep your family safe from burn injuries


According to the American Burn Association, a burn injury serious enough to require treatment happens every minute in the U.S.

It doesn’t stop there. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that each day over 300 children are seen in an emergency room for burn injuries.

The University of Michigan Trauma Burn Center, one of the nation’s oldest and most respected centers for treating patients who have suffered from burn injuries, admits an average of 1,400 multiple-trauma and burn patients each year in the hospital.

While most people would assume those burn injuries result from fires or flames, hot liquids and steam can burn the skin just as easily! In fact, the leading cause of burn injuries in children less than 5 years old is scalding from hot liquids. Moreover, 95 percent of these injuries occur in the home!

This week (the first week of February) is observed as National Burn Awareness Week. The week serves as a great reminder to local communities to become more aware of burn injuries and learn how to prevent them in their own homes.

Here are a few easy tips to keep you and your family safe from burn injuries:UM_TBCScaldPosterFinal

  • Keep hot pan handles on the stove turned inward to avoid little hands reaching up and pulling hot pans down on themselves.
  • Stay in the kitchen while cooking to avoid unattended home fires and burn injuries. Don’t forget to use a timer to remind you when items are done cooking and be sure to turn off the stove, burners and any other devices.
  • Keep children away from hot food, drinks and kitchen electronics by keeping them away from countertop edges and pushing them as far back as possible. Consider placing a lid on open drink containers containing hot liquids.
  • Never hold or carry a child with a hot drink in your hand. The number one cause of scald burns to young children is spills and reaching for hot drinks and food. Avoid an accidental scalding!
  • Keep an eye on candles and make sure they are at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn. Avoid placing candles in bedrooms or other areas where people may fall asleep and don’t forget to blow them out before you leave a room.
  • Watch fires and fireplaces glass doors. Fireplace doors seem like they are helping keep children away from a burning fire, but the glass doors themselves can become very hot, stay hot for long after the fireplace is turned off and are a frequent cause of burns.
  • Prevent tap water scald burns by making sure your home water heater is at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or just below the medium setting.
  • Make sure bath water isn’t too hot for little ones. A safe bathing temperature is 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If your child is too young to let you know the water is too hot, you can also look into purchasing an anti-scalding safety device that can be added to your bathtub faucet.

It’s important to remember that children are at high risk for burn injuries because of their immature thinking skills, inability to see danger and thinner dermal layers of skin.

Keep these easy tips in mind to keep your family safe and to avoid burn injuries in your home!

Take the next step:

  • Watch the video the U-M Trauma Burn Center helped to create.
  • Learn more about the U-M Trauma Burn Center.
  • Find more tips on the National Scald Prevention Campaign website.

Trauma Burn Center logoFounded in 1959, the U-M Trauma Burn Center was one of the first  dedicated burn units in the U.S. Verified as both a Burn Center & a Level‐1 Trauma Center by the American Burn Association & the American College of Surgeons, it is recognized for the ability to care for the most severely injured patients, and leadership in research, education, outreach & prevention. Each year, an average of 1,400 multiple-trauma and burn patients are admitted to U-M. The center serves as the State Burn Coordinating Center for Michigan & offers award-winning outreach programs.