Burn safety in the home

By Julian Burton Burns Trust

The majority of burns are preventable. Approximately two thirds of severe burn injuries happen in the home. By being aware and making small behavioural or environmental changes, you can help to keep you and your family safe!

Severe burn injury can be life threatening, and even small burns can be dangerous for the very young. Babies and young children have fragile skin. Their skin burns deeper and more quickly than adults and at lower temperatures.

How can I help my children to stay safe?

Make simple changes around the home and teach your young children about burns hazards. Take these steps to help keep your young children and family safe.

Reduce burns in the kitchen:

  • Keep cups of hot drinks out of reach of children
  • Install a barrier to the kitchen to keep children away from cooking areas
  • Move appliance cords and saucepan handles towards the back of benches, tables and stoves
  • Stir and then check temperature of food cooked in a microwave
  • Teach your children basic kitchen safety. This can be done using toy kitchen sets or while cooking together

Reduce burns in the bathroom:

  • Lower the delivery temperature of hot water to 50°C – hot water from the tap at 60°C can burn young children in less than a second! Contact a licensed plumber to install mixing valves that safely lower the delivery temperature of water
  • Always supervise children in the bath or shower
  • Tturn the cold water tap on first and off last
  • Check bath water before placing children in the water –  if it feels too hot on the inside of your wrist it will be hot enough to burn a baby or young child within seconds
  • Unplug and store hair dryers, straighteners and curlers in a secure cupboard

 Reduce burns around the home:

  • Never drink a hot drink while holding a child
  • Keep matches and lighters in secure cupboards and out of reach of children
  • Use fire guards to shield young children from falling against combustion heaters or open fires
  • Use power boards instead of double adapters
  • Block power points with safety plugs
  • Keep candles away from curtains and other materials and never leave them unattended
  • Install and regularly check smoke alarms
  • Use a safety guard for treadmills
  • Keep buckets of hot water out of reach of young children when cleaning
  • Store chemicals and poisonous substances in original containers and out of reach of children
  • Encourage children to play in shade and to wear hats and suitable clothing when outside

The 4 steps of burns first aid

Quick, effective and appropriate first aid can reduce the depth and size of the burn. This will reduce the impact and severity of the injury and improve outcomes.

  1. Remove all jewellery from around the burn area. Remove any clothing and nappies around the burn area unless it is stuck to the skin
  2. Cool the burn under cool running water for 20 minutes. For pain relief, use a hydrogel. Do not use ice or creams as this can further damage the skin
  3. Cover the burn loosely with cling wrap or a clean, damp lint-free cloth
  4. Seek immediate medical advice if the burn is:
  • Larger than a 20 cent coin
  • On the face, hands, groin or feet
  • Deep or infected
  • Caused by chemicals, electricity or if signs of inhalation     injury (blackening around mouth or nostrils, swelling of airways) are evident. In an Emergency call 000.

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Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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