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Be careful, that's HOT!

By Kelli J. Shidler, M.D.

Be Carefull That Hot image

Most burn injuries occur in the home. Common daily functions, such as running hot bath water, boiling a pot of water or heating food in a microwave can be dangerous for toddlers and young children. Boys Town Pediatrics has the following suggestions to help decrease burn injuries in your home:

  • Teach your child that irons, ovens, burners and grills are very hot and that he should never touch them.
  • Use the back burners when possible. If you need to use a front burner, turn pot handles toward the back and never leave utensils in the pot.
  • Do not hold your child while cooking.
  • Use microwave safe containers for heating food and always test the temperature of the food before giving it to your child.
  • Test bath water temperature with your forearm before placing your child in the water. Keep hot water heater set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier instead of a steamer or hot-water vaporizer for upper respiratory congestion to avoid steam burns.

Treating Burns

Even with lots of warnings and careful supervision, your child may still find a hot spot. To treat a burn you must first recognize the type of burn. There are four degrees of burns:

  • 1st degree (minor burn)
    Appears red and is sore, but will heal quickly.
  • 2nd degree (serious burn)
    Requires immediate medical attention and may include blistering, swelling and pain.
  • 3rd degree (severe burn)
    Medical treatment is necessary right away. The skin may appear white, brown or charred with blisters. Even if there is no pain, seek medical attention.
  • 4th degree (life threatening)
    Seek doctor or hospital immediately. 4th degree burns penetrate through the skin to muscle and bones. These burns may be accompanied with serious complications and may be life threatening.

If you cannot tell the severity of your child’s burn, seek medical advice. Always seek medical attention for anything more than a minor burn. Electrical burns should receive medical treatment right away, even if there is no pain involved. Electrical burns have the potential of being life-threatening.

Caring for burns

For advanced burns, call 911 and follow these guidelines until help arrives:

  1. Cool the burn. Run cool water over 1st & 2nd degree burns. For 3rd degree burns, place cool, wet dressings over the burn. The cool water helps to bring down the swelling and stop the burn from spreading.
  2. Remove burned clothing. Be careful to only remove clothes that are not stuck to the skin. Remove any tight jewelry or clothing that may become stuck from swelling.
  3. Cover the burn. Place dry dressings over the burn to prevent bacteria from setting into the burned skin.
  4. Care for the victim. Talk to the burned victim, let them know what is going on and that help is on the way. You may cover unburned areas with a blanket to keep the victim’s body temperature steady.