LSCBLocal Safeguarding Children Board Northamptonshire

Burns and scalds

A child's skin is far more sensitive than an adult's and will burn and scald much more easily.

Hot drinks - the most common cause of scalds in young children

The majority of burns and scalds to children under 5 are caused by hot drinks. Hot water used to make a cup of tea or coffee can scald up to 15 minutes after it has been boiled.

Research by the Child Accident Prevention Trust has shown that accidents like burns and scalds to children peak around teatime, occuring between 3pm and 7pm. Scalds from cups of tea and coffee are one of the commonest preventable injuries in crawling babies and toddlers. Parents often don't realise the danger caused by hot drinks left on tables or kitchen worktops, as children can often reach further than their parents expect.

  • Out of reach - always place hot drinks out of children's reach, away from the edges of tables and surfaces and don't place on a tablecloth that a child could pull.
  • Don't hold a hot drink when your child is in your arms or on your lap.
  • Kettles cords should be kept well back from the edge of your work surface.
  • Use the back rings on your cooker and keep pan handles turned away from the edge.

Hot bath water - the biggest cause of fatal scalding in young children

Never put your baby/child in the bath until you have checked the water temperature.

  • Don't check the temperature with your hand, instead dip your elbow in the water  - if the water feels hot on your elbow, then it will be too hot for your child.
  • When filling the bath, run the cold water first before adding hot water.
  • As your child gets older, teach them to test the water first too.

Heated appliances

This includes irons, hair straighteners/tongs. Keep these heated appliances and their electrical cords out of the reach of children and turn them off immediately after use. 

What else in your home could burn your child?

Children can also get burns from open fires, stoves, cookers, cigarettes, matches, lighters and other hot surfaces.

Be aware of where the dangers are and use safety equipment such as fireguards and child-gates to make sure your child can't reach hot surfaces. 

Always keep matches, lighters and cigarettes in a safe place away from children.

Last updated: 29 June 2015

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