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

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

This post will offer facts and advice about burns, chemical 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 put their hands on the grill or stove. Ouch! This can cause serious burns.

To avoid accidents, always have an adult by the working stove. Close the oven door and primarily, keep children out of the kitchen.

If you’re planning a BBQ, an adult must guard the grill at all times. It’s actually a very nice activity! Make sure you change BBQ guarding, salad chopping and diaper changing duties every now and then. 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 the 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 also always have a couple of buckets of water next to the grill to pour over a burning charcoal that’s gone astray.


Children are likely to get scalds from hot water or hot steam. In the kitchen, it’s likely to be 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.

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

First aid for burns

If an accident occurs:

  • Stop the burning process
  • Rinse the burn in cool (not ice cold) water for at least 10, preferably 20 minutes
  • Apply hydrogel dressing if available
  • Give painkillers to treat the pain
  • If the child gets larger blisters (whole or burst), go to the emergency department
  • Feel free to 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 it. 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, as soon as you have finished using it. 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.

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