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Thinking ahead to prevent burns and scalds

 Click here to download this information as a PDF document.

Burns and scalds are serious. They cause painful injuries that can require treatments like surgery, skin grafts and wearing special garments for a long time. And scars from burns can change a child’s appearance forever. Children’s skin burns 4 times more quickly than an adult’s, so severe burns can happen in seconds.

Every year in Canada, 770 children aged 14 and under are hospitalized with serious burns and scalds. About 40 die from fires and other burns (3 out of 4 of these deaths are caused by smoke inhalation). Many serious scald burns happen when young children are placed in bathwater that is too hot.

Parents can prevent these serious injuries:

Use it. Installing smoke alarms and lowering your hot water temperature can save lives and prevent serious burns.

  • Install smoke alarms on every floor and in each sleeping area. 
  • Test alarms each month and change the batteries every year.
  • Lower tap water temperature to 49°C (120°F). Tap water in most homes is 60°C (140° F) which can cause a third degree burn to a child in 1 second

Plan Ahead. Children grow fast and are curious. Make sure you’re ready for what they can reach and get into.

  • Fill the tub and check the temperature before putting your child in the tub. Put your forearm in the water to make sure it’s not too hot.
  • Keep appliance cords from hanging down where children can pull them (this will stop children from pulling kettles full of hot water onto themselves)
  • Keep lighters and matches where children can’t see or reach them
  • Use a travel mug with a lid when you’re drinking coffee or tea near babies and young children
  • Place barriers around the glass doors of gas fireplaces. These doors can reach 245°C in 6 minutes, and can take 45 minutes to cool down.
  • Keep children away from the stove when you’re cooking:
    • Sit babies in a high chair
    • Sit preschoolers at the table
    • Cook using back burners
    • Keep pot handles away from the edge of the stove

What’s the rush? Is your younger child really ready to play without you watching? Does your older child have the judgment to supervise younger children?

  • Many severe tap water scalds happen when young children are being supervised by an older brother or sister.
  • Babies and young children aren’t ready to play alone. They need to have an adult watching them all the time, especially in the bath
 
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