Health tips: Be aware of danger for scalds

News Archive

Health tips: Be aware of danger for scalds

Harborview Medical Center burn unit sees nearly 300 such injuries a year; many are preventable.
McKenna Princing

Each year, the UW Medicine Regional Burn Center at Harborview Medical Center sees nearly 1,000 patients, 300 of whom have scald injuries.

A scald occurs when skin is burned by something wet, such as hot water. Young children and the elderly are most vulnerable to scald injuries, though scalds affect patients of all ages.

Annually, more than 500,000 people receive medical treatment for burn injuries in the United States and Canada. Roughly half of these injuries are scalds.

Most burns occur in the home, usually in the kitchen or bathroom, and are often preventable, said Dr. Nicole Gibran, director of the UW Medicine Regional Burn Center at Harborview.

“People can prevent scalds through increased awareness of scald hazards and by making simple changes to their behavior or environment,” Gibran said.

In recognition of Burn Injury Prevention Week (Feb. 3-9), Gibran offered tips for keeping kids safe from scalds:

  • Lower your water heater thermostat to deliver water at less than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Establish a “kid-safe” zone while preparing and serving hot foods and beverages, and near stoves and cooking appliances.
  • Always mix bath water thoroughly and test it before placing your child (or yourself) in the tub.
  • Seat your child in the tub with their back to the faucet, so they cannot grab the faucet and accidentally turn on hot water.
  • Do not heat baby bottles in the microwave. Microwaves heat liquids unevenly, which result in a scalded baby’s mouth.