Kids are at highest risk for a scald burn

February 6, 2023

Kids are at highest risk for a scald burn

More than 3 in 10 injuries admitted to U.S. burn centers are a result of scald burns from hot water or other liquids, or steam. American Burn Association data shows that 61% of scald burn victims are under age 5.

“People are unaware of the impacts hot liquids can have on small children, particularly toddlers, as they start to move around and pull on things,” said Dr. Barclay Stewart, a UW Medicine burn and trauma surgeon at Harborview Medical Center. “Busy parents and caregivers who are trying to balance cooking and taking care of the child at the same time also are at high risk.”

Dr. Mary King, medical director of the Harborview Pediatric Trauma and Burn intensive care unit, advises parents to check the water temperature of baths and showers before children get in.

“Make sure you have it set at 120 degrees, max,” said King, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “You need to check that temperature before you're exposing your kid and also teach your children not to get into water before they've checked it themselves.”

National Burn Awareness Week is Feb. 5-11. The American Burn Association offers guidance to keep adults and children safe from scald burns:

  • Establish a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove while cooking.
  • Open lids away from your body after microwaving food.
  • Always wear oven mitts when taking food out of the oven.
  • Use a tight-fitting lid with travel mugs.

Learn more about burn safety from the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center.

Download broadcast-ready soundbites on preventing scald burns.

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