Preventing Burns

You can’t keep kids free from injuries all the time, but these simple precautions can reduce the chances of burns in your home:

In General

  • Keep matches, lighters, chemicals, and lit candles out of kids’ reach.
  • Put child-safety covers on all electrical outlets.
  • Get rid of equipment and appliances with old or frayed cords and extension cords that look damaged.
  • If you need to use a humidifier or vaporizer, use a cool-mist model rather than a hot-steam one.
  • Choose sleepwear that’s labeled flame retardant (either polyester or treated cotton). Cotton sweatshirts or pants that aren’t labeled as sleepwear generally aren’t flame retardant.
  • Make sure older kids and teens are especially careful when using irons, flat irons, or curling irons.
  • Prevent house fires by making sure you have a smoke alarm on every level of your home and in each bedroom. Check these monthly and change the batteries twice a year.
  • Replace smoke alarms that are 10 years or older.
  • Don’t smoke inside, especially when you’re tired, taking medications that can make you drowsy, or in bed.
  • Don’t use fireworks or sparklers.


  • Set the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120°F (49°C), or use the “low-medium setting.” A child can be scalded in 5 seconds in water if the temperature is 140°F (60°C). If you’re unable to control the water temperature (if you live in an apartment, for example), install an anti-scald device, which is relatively inexpensive and can be installed you or by a plumber.
  • Always test bath water with your elbow before putting your child in it.
  • Always turn the cold water on first and turn it off last when running water in the bathtub or sink.
  • Turn kids away from the faucet or fixtures so they’re less likely to play with them and turn on the hot water.

Kitchen/Dining Room

Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove every time you cook.

  • Block access to the stove as much as possible.
  • Never let a child use a walker in the kitchen.
  • Avoid using tablecloths or large placemats. Youngsters can pull on them and overturn a hot drink or plate of food.
  • Keep hot drinks and foods out of reach of children.
  • Never drink hot beverages or soup with a child sitting on your lap or carry hot liquids or dishes around kids. If you have to walk with hot liquid in the kitchen (like a pot of soup or cup of coffee), make sure you know where kids are so you don’t trip over them.
  • Never hold a baby or small child while cooking.
  • Never warm baby bottles in the microwave oven. The liquid may heat unevenly, resulting in pockets of breast milk or formula that can scald a baby’s mouth.
  • Screen fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. Radiators and electric baseboard heaters may need to be screened as well.
  • Teach kids never to put anything into the fireplace when it is lit. Also make sure they know the glass doors to the fireplace can be very hot and cause a burn.
  • Outside/In the Car


  • Use playground equipment with caution. If it’s very hot outside, use the equipment only in the morning, when it’s had a chance to cool down during the night.
  • Remove your child’s safety seat or stroller from the hot sun when not in use because kids can get burns from hot vinyl and metal. If you must leave your car seat or stroller in the sun, cover it with a blanket or towel.
  • Before leaving your parked car on a hot day, hide the seatbelts’ metal latch plates in the seats to prevent the sun from hitting them directly.
  • Don’t forget to apply sunscreen when going outside. Use a product with the SPF of 15 or higher. Apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going out and reapply every 2 hours or more often if in water. Do not use sunscreen on infants under 6 months of age — they should be kept out of the sun.