Protecting Kids From Scalds and Burns

Burn hazards can be found all over your home, yet many are often overlooked. Here, an expert with the Kohl's SAFE 4 Kids program offers advice on how to protect your kids.

Is your family enjoying the fall season? With the crisp weather comes ample opportunities for family bonding around a bonfire or over a cup of cocoa, but it also comes with a risk of burns and scalds.

In fact, the Burn Foundation reports that some 500,000 people suffer from burns or scalds annually and the majority of those burns happen to kids under 5 or to adults over age 65.

While some burn and scald hazards – like a fire – are obvious to parents, others can be a bit trickier to spot, says Jennifer Kotas, an injury prevention education coordinator with the Kohl’s SAFE 4 Kids program.

Everyday hazards

The living areas of your home, for example, can be a haven of burn risks, so Kotas suggests that caregivers and parents go room-to-room looking for things that could cause burns or scalds – and make sure that they are setting a good example for their kids by using appliances safely.

“In the kitchen, kids should have a 3-foot zone away from hot appliances and parents should be showing them visually how far back they should be,” Kotas says. “They should be using back burners and turning pot handles in.”

Hot beverages and Ramen noodles can also be the culprits of some serious scalds in the kitchen. To avoid accidents with food, Kotas says parents should not drink hot liquid while holding a child, pass hot food over a child or let kids use the microwave.

Of course, the kitchen isn’t the only room where parents should be vigilant. The bathroom also houses hazards that parents may not think of. Oftentimes, infants will receive scald burns while bathing because the water is either coming out too hot, someone flushes the toilet or the child kicks the faucet while the parent is looking away, Kotas says. For these reasons, caregivers should never bathe a baby in the sink. Bath time should not be playtime.

“Bath water shouldn’t be more than 100 degrees,” she explains. To avoid bath time mishaps, parents should turn their water heater’s temperature down to 120 degrees.

In addition, Kotas notes that parents should be mindful of beauty tools like hair straighteners, curling irons and blow dryers.

“Parents don’t always remember how hot these items get and that they stay hot,” she explains. “Make sure things are unplugged and stored where kids can’t reach them.”

And as fall and winter start to blow in, parents should keep an eye on the space heaters, fireplaces or candles that they’re using to keep cozy.

“Put matches away, blow out candles and keep your kids under constant supervision,” Kotas adds.

In the event of a burn

If your child does get burned or scalded, Kotas recommends avoiding ointments or other home remedies, like butter.

“Ointments and other home remedies slow the release of heat from the skin, causing more damage,” she says. “The doctor will have to remove the ointment, also removing the skin, which can lead to infection.

Instead, Kotas says parents should run the affected area under cool water, cover it with a clean, dry cloth and seek medical attention.

For more information on common household burns and what you can do to avoid them – or for more details on the Kohl’s SAFE 4 Kids program, visit


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