Before shifting my focus to becoming a Public Health Nurse, I had the privilege of working as a pediatric nurse in children’s hospitals in Toronto and London, Ontario. What I enjoyed most about working in a hospital setting was being in the children’s emergency department, because I loved the quick pace and the opportunity to care for children and families in times of crisis.
As both a pediatric nurse and as a parent, I found burns to be one of the most distressing injuries for parents and children. You could almost tell by the shrill cry of a child coming through the emergency room doors that they had a burn. The panicked and scared look on a parent’s face also gave it away. These injuries happen in a flash and are very upsetting for everyone.
Watch Katerina tell you how spilled tea profoundly affected her family in a matter of seconds.
Common burn injuries in young children
Scalds are by far the most common type of burn injuries that send young children to hospital. Of all scald injuries requiring hospital admission, 83% are children under the age of five. Hot liquids like coffee, tea, soup and even hot tap water are the most common causes of scald burns. Other burns are caused by:
- Contact with flames or hot objects like oven doors or gas fireplace glass
- Chemical burns from swallowing dangerous things like drain cleaner or batteries
- Electrical burns from biting into electric cords or sticking fingers or objects into electrical outlets
Why children are at great risk for burns
- A child’s skin is thinner than an adult’s and burns four times more quickly and deeply than an adult’s
- Children are curious by nature, often exploring their world and do not understand or remember the safety rules
10 essential tips to prevent burn injuries
Preventing burn injuries starts with being aware of the common causes of burn injuries; it involves close supervision of young children at all times; and taking the steps to burn-proof your home. Here are ten essential tips you can use to help prevent burn injuries:
- Keep your child away from hot drinks and food. If you drink hot liquids around children, use a travel mug with a tight fitting lid. Never drink hot liquids while holding your child.
- Reduce your hot water temperature at the tap to 49C (120F).
- Always check the bath water temperature with your forearm or your elbow. It should feel “just warm”.
- Create a ‘Kid-Free Zone’ (3 feet) when preparing hot foods and liquids. Put your baby or toddler in a high chair or playpen. Ensure preschoolers are seated at the kitchen table or out of the way. Consider using a safety gate to keep young children out of the kitchen when you are cooking.
- When cooking, use the back burners and turn pot handles towards the back of the stove. Keep all appliances and cords away from the edge of the counter and out of reach.
- Avoid using tablecloths or large placemats. Young children can pull on them and overturn a hot drink or hot food in an instant.
- Keep matches, lighters, chemicals and lit candles out of reach.
- Put child-safety covers on all electrical outlets.
- Barriers should be placed around the glass on gas fireplaces.
- Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and in each sleeping area.
Burns are painful and distressing! Being aware of how easily these injuries can happen and what you can do to prevent them are important steps to keeping everyone safe.
Do you have other tips for preventing burn injuries? We would love to hear them!