Skip to content
Hem Burns and scalds in children – prevention and treatment

Burns and scalds in children – prevention and treatment

Burns in children

This post is also available in: Svenska

A one year old reaches for the whistling kettle cord. A toddler curiously examines reaches over the hot, fiery barbecue. A five year old just wants to taste the frying potato chip.

We know. You instinctively want to do that classic thing that parents do when they turn into a ninja and lunge at the scene to stop that disaster from happening.

Burns and scalds are damages to the skin caused by heat. A burn is caused by dry heat e.g. from a fire or iron, whereas scalds are caused by wet heat e.g. hot water.

We all know you want to avoid this because not only is it painful to see but it’s actually painful to, well, be burnt. This post will offer facts and advice about burns, scalds and how to treat and prevent them.

Avoid burns in the kitchen and at BBQs

It’s almost dinner time and preparation is getting hectic. You have a pot of boiling water for the pasta, a hot pan going to fry off some tofu and bubbling oil to deep fry some chicken. Oh wait, did I mention your child wondering about between your kitchen drawers? It’s a recipe for disaster.

The stove can get hot. Very hot. And small children are at the right height to easily reach over and tag onto the pan handles or put their hands on the stove. Ouch! This can cause serious burns.

To avoid accidents, always have an adult by the working stove and close the oven door. Primarily, if possible, keep children out of the kitchen. Easier said than done, we know.

A more difficult situation to control is the BBQ summer season. If you’re hosting a BBQ, an adult must guard the grill at all times. It’s actually a very nice activity! You can socialise way more and make less awkward small talk over the grill – “grilled corn?! That’s my favourite too!” Make sure you have the changing of the guards. Every now and then do the salad chopping and diaper changing. And before lighting the grill, test the stability of the grill by pushing it. Some grills tip over just by poking at them. You do not want a grill filled with glowing coals to tip over (whether there are children or adults nearby).

Burns caused by fire

Fires and glowing coals can easily ignite fluttering clothing fabrics. Sometimes, your curious future scientists (your children) like to test their hypothesis at the grill when their parents aren’t looking – can you grill napkins / grass / toy cars?

Do not keep fires or open flames unattended and always have a fire blanket within reach. We always have a couple of buckets of water next to the grill to pour over a burning charcoal that’s gone astray. It’s better to be safe than sorry.


Children are likely to get scalds from hot water or hot steam. In the kitchen, it’s usually from a freshly boiled kettle with the electrical cord hanging at just the perfect height for the child to grab at it and have it spill all over them. What a disaster. I’m shivering just writing this.

Keep all electrical cords away from children and be mindful of where you place hot drinks. Put it far away from the edge and place it down before holding your baby.

First aid for burns

If an accident occurs:

  1. Stop the burning process
  2. Rinse the burn in cool (not ice cold) water for at least 10, preferably 20, minutes
  3. Apply hydrogel dressing if available
  4. Give painkillers to treat the pain
  5. If your child gets larger blisters (whole or burst), go to the emergency department
  6. Wrap a clean, damp towel around the burn
Acid and chemical burn

Acid and chemical burns is very damaging and require immediate medical attention. Try to remove contaminated clothing by cutting them, and try to keep the chemicals away from skin and eyes. Be careful not to spread the toxins. Rinse the area with water continuously and ensure it doesn’t pool anywhere on the skin.

To avoid chemical burns, make sure to put any acids and chemicals out of reach from children. Especially after use. It must be stored in the original bottle with a“childproof” lock. And yes, children can open these locks but they may be less likely to do so compared to opening a standard screw cap.

Burns and scalds are one of the most painful, horrific accidents. Keep an eye on your child and try to avoid these accidents by following the tips on this blog.

Read more:

If you’re interested in more about child safety we have plenty of blogs about preventing and treating snake bites, tick bites in children, and insect bites and stings. We also have blogs about safety during children’s activities for example, tips on preventing your child from drowning, avoiding trampoline injuries, and sun smart kids.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *