Too hot to handle

Prevent scald burns with these cool tips

Every day scald burns caused by hot liquids, steam, or foods are responsible for 300 children being taken to emergency rooms, according to the New Hampshire Department of Safety. And they weren't even near a flame.

"Most burn injuries occur in residences," J. William Degnan, New Hampshire State Fire Marshal, said. "They are typically related to ordinary activities—bathing, cooking and eating—and often happen to children because of a lapse in adult supervision or a lack of protective measures."

Scald burns are the most common burn injury among children age 4 and younger and mortality rates from scalds are highest for children younger than 4.

The American Burn Association recommends the following simple safety tips to decrease the risk to yourself and those you love:

• Lower the temperature settings on water heaters to 120° F or less.

• Install anti-scald devices on water faucets and showerheads.

• When filling the bathtub, turn on cold water first. Mix in warmer water carefully.

• Use knob covers on faucets.

Scalds also occur in the kitchen or dining room. Many of these can be prevented by:

• Using oven mitts or hot pad when cooking.

• Turning pot handles inward.

• Thoroughly stirring all microwaved food.

• Never heating baby bottles in a microwave.

• Not using deep fryers around children.

"These suggestions may seem obvious," Degnan said, "but given the statistics, they can't be repeated too often."

Also, remember to check your smoke alarms once a month to see that they are working properly and every six months replace the batteries. If you need a good way to remember that you need to replace the batteries in the smoke alarms, change them when we change the clocks in the fall and spring.  

Deb Samaha is the program manager at the Injury Prevention Center located at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD). The Injury Prevention Center’s mission is to prevent deaths and disability due to injuries through public and professional education, enactment and enforcement of appropriate legislation, and encouraging the development, distribution and use of proven strategies to prevent injuries. The Injury Prevention Center has resources for parents, children, and professionals alike. For more information, go to

More health columns from Dartmouth Hitchcock

Post-holiday health tips

Make a plan for you and your family

The common cold and anesthesia

Help children facing surgery avoid complications

Healthcare transitions for youth with special needs

Reduce anxiety by planning ahead

From living at home to living away

Reduce stress on your child by helping them make a plan for health services
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