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Fire and Burn Prevention at Children's Hospital Colorado


Parents can be the best form of burn prevention

Young children need supervision almost constantly. Unfortunately, they can’t be watched every second of the day. It only takes a brief instant for a young child to get into serious trouble.

Hot liquids burn like fire

Most people associate burns with fire, but scald burns caused by hot liquids are actually the most common cause of severe burns in children. Scald burns and other burns can be traced to many common household appliances and fixtures including some of the following:

  • Bathtubs
  • Coffee pots
  • Crockpots
  • Cups or bowls of tea, soup or coffee
  • Electric fryers
  • BBQ grills
  • Hot tubs
  • Liquids or foods from the microwave
  • Pans on the stove
  • Sinks
  • Steam vaporizers
  • Curling irons
  • Clothes irons
  • Stovetops
  • Fireplaces
  • Microwaved liquids
  • Treadmills can also cause burns of the hands from friction

Tips for preventing scald burns

Thankfully, most scald burns are preventable if a few simple guidelines are followed.
  • Never allow electric cords to hang from a counter or table top.
  • Never leave young children unsupervised in the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Keep children out of the kitchen while preparing meals.
  • Never leave hot beverages, soups or foods unattended or within reach of a toddler.
  • Never hold a child in your lap while drinking a hot beverage.
  • Set your hot water heater to 120° and test your water temperature with a candy or water thermometer.
  • Test bath water before placing a child in the tub. An adult should be able to place his of her arm in the water for 30 seconds without discomfort.
  • Never leave the bathroom while there is a child in the tub.
  • Before bathing your child, run cool water in the bathtub first, followed by hot water.
  • Secure a latch to the upper part of the bathroom door to keep children out of the bathroom so they can’t turn on the hot water and burn themselves.

Tips for preventing fire burns

Fire play is never safe and causes the most significant burns among children; 75% of children who suffer a flame burn injury were injured while playing with fire.

Plan and practice a family escape plan from your home and meeting place in case of a fire.

A matter of degrees

Burns are classified by the amount of damage done to the skin and other body tissue.

  • First-degree burns, such as sunburns are minor and heal quickly. First-degree burns result in reddened skin.
  • Second-degree burns are serious injuries that require medical attention. Symptoms of second-degree burns include blistered, peeling skin.
  • Third-degree burns are severe and require immediate, professional medical attention. You will likely notice dry/charred, white, yellow or bright red tissue. Although the severely burned area may not be blistered, it often is surrounded by blistered areas.

If your child gets burned

Follow these steps when treating any minor burn:

  • Remove ALL clothing and jewelry.
  • Run cool water over the burn for several minutes. Do not place any home remedies including butter, ointments or ice on burned areas.
  • Cover the burn with a clean bandage or clean cloth.
  • Call 911 if the burn is deep (large broken blisters), or involves the face, genitalia or a large body surface area (such as the entire chest, an arm, a leg or more).
  • Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol) to relieve any pain.
  • Consult with your family physician, local urgent care center or The Burn Center at Children's Hospital Colorado if the burn does not heal in two to three days, or if signs of infection appear.