Prevent burns: All you need to know

Toddler reaching for a pan on the stove in kitchen
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Every day, babies and children are treated in emergencies for burn-related injuries. Many of these accidents could be easily prevented. Follow these tips on how to guard your baby against burns.

In the Kitchen

The best piece of advice I can give you is to keep your baby out of the kitchen. Funny, right? We all know this is near impossible. If you are in the kitchen, your baby wants to be there too, in the middle of the action. You can eliminate the most serious dangers by taking the following precautions:

1 Supervise your baby

Never leave your baby unattended while in the kitchen. An accident can happen in the blink of an eye.

2 Babyproof stove and oven

Oven knob cover/ oven lock/ Stove guard
  • If you have a gas stove, turn the knobs firmly to the off position, and if they’re easy to remove, do so when you aren’t cooking so that your baby can’t turn the stove on. If they cannot be removed easily, or you choose not to, consider using knob covers to block your baby from turning on burners. Knob covers prevent curious hands from the stove and potentially filling the house with gas but are easy for adults to open.
  • Consider installing a stove guard to make sure your baby can’t reach the stove. Look for something of high quality, adjustable length and that can be easily washed.
  • Secure oven door with an appliance latch. This will help your baby from pulling the oven down, especially if something is cooking in there.

3 Do this while you cook

  • Use back burners whenever possible while you cook. If you have to use the front burners, turn cookware handles away from the front of the stove, so your baby can’t reach up and grab them.
  • Don’t hold your baby while cooking at the stove. Babies squirm and fidget, which can land you in trouble in a matter of a second.
  • If you wear your baby in a wrap or a carrier in the kitchen, you can safely wash or chop veggies and fruits, prepare sandwiches, or do the dishes. Forget about frying food or cooking anything on the stove. The loose material of the wrap or the carrier can easily catch fire near an open flame or any other heating element. Not only that, but anything can also happen.
  • If you have an older child and you must cook, consider keeping your child entertained in the kitchen by giving her a small project. Check out this book “The Montessori Toddler” by Simone Davies. It offers plenty of safe ideas on how to engage your baby in the kitchen.

4 Teach your older child

Teach your older child that the oven and stove are out of bounds. As usual, you will have to repeat the message several times before it sticks.

5 Follow these best practices

  • Keep appliances like the toaster and electric kettle in the kitchen away from the edge of counters so that they’re beyond your baby’s grasp.
  • If you have a water dispenser at home, consider disabling the hot water, at least until your baby is older.
  • Keep away chairs or stepstools that your baby can use to climb on to reach the stove or any other dangerous item. You can consider using chair locks for that purpose.
  • Don’t warm baby bottles in a microwave oven. The liquid heats unevenly, so there may be pockets of milk hot enough to scald your baby’s mouth when he drinks.

Around the house

Boy dangerously touching a hot iron
Photo credit: Shutterstock

1 Take care of hot food or drink

  • Unplug appliances that create heat like iron, blow-dryer, flat iron and curling iron, and put them away after each use. This is the best way to ensure your baby won’t accidentally turn them on and burn himself.
  • Don’t carry hot food or drink and your baby at the same time. Your baby can reach for the cup or move too quickly, resulting in the hot food or liquid spilling onto them.
  • Whenever you have to walk with hot food or drink, be sure you know where your baby is so you don’t trip over him.
  • As your baby grows, he will try to reach and grab anything. So, keep hot food and drink away from the edges of tables and counters.

2 Fire patrol

  • Children are naturally curious about fire and find it exciting to watch a flame appear from a lighter or a match. However, they are not able to understand the dangers of fire. That’s why, it’s very important that you keep matches and lighters out of reach and out of sight. Store them in a locked cabinet or drawer.
  • Make sure you have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home, especially in sleeping areas. Test the alarms every month. It is best to use smoke alarms that use long-life batteries, but if you do not, change the batteries at least once a year.
  • Keep extinguishers near places where a fire might start.

3 Use heaters with care

  • Make sure your baby can’t get close to the space heater.
  • Keep the heater away from bedding, drapes, furniture and other flammable materials.
  • Never leave a heater on when you go to sleep or place it near someone who’s sleeping.

In the Bathroom

  • Your baby has delicate skin. Even if the water doesn’t feel too hot for you, it can still burn him. To help prevent burns, fill the tub before putting your baby in. The water in the tub should be around 100°F (38°C). You can check water temperature by dipping your elbow into the water for 5-10 seconds. The water should feel warm and not hot.  For greater peace of mind, you can use a bath thermometer.
  • As your baby grows, he may be able to reach the bathtub knobs or get his hands under the faucet. That’s why it is better to set your water heater to no higher than 120°F (49°C). Also, consider installing a mixer faucet, if you don’t have one already. This protects you from sudden changes in water supply by mixing hot and cold water. To put your mind at ease, you can also install an anti-scalding device on your faucet. This automatic temperature control device will automatically turn off the water if the temperature gets too hot. Read more about bath and bathroom safety here.

In the car

  • If you park in direct sunlight, cover the car seat with a towel or blanket.
  • Before putting your baby in the car seat, check the temperature of the seat and the buckles.

Despite all these measures, remember that accidents can still happen; Stock up on first-aid supplies. Make sure you and other caregivers know where to find these supplies in your home and know how to treat skin burns.

If you have discovered some other tips, we want to hear all about them in the comments below!

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