Every day, hundreds of young children with burn injuries are taken to emergency rooms. They were not even near a flame. The children are victims of scalds.
Clearly, this is a real danger. Scald burns (caused by hot liquids, steam or foods) are the most common burn injury among children age 4 and younger. According to Safe Kids USA, an average of 12 children ages 14 and under die from scald burn injuries each year. Children ages 4 and under account for nearly all of these deaths.
While the injuries and the numbers are distressing, even more disturbing is the fact that many of these burns could have been prevented. Shriners Hospitals for Children® and Shriners International are addressing scald injuries as part of their Burn Awareness campaign.
How Scalds Happen
Most scalds occur in residences. Scald burns 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. Youngsters may not understand or even be aware of potential dangers of hot liquids (especially water) and foods; they simply trust adults to keep them safe.
In addition, young children have thinner skin that burns more quickly than adults’. People of all ages can be burned in 30 seconds by a flowing liquid that is 130° F; at 140° F, it takes only 5 seconds; at 160° F, it only takes 1 second. For children under 5, these temperatures can cause a burn in half the time.
Quick Facts about Scald Injuries
- Every day, hundreds of young children with scald burns are taken to emergency rooms.
- Scalds or other contact burns are the cause of 90 percent of burn injuries to of children age 5 and younger.
- Children under 4 years of age and people with disabilities are at high risk of burn-related death and injury, especially scald and contact burns.
- Hot tap water accounts for nearly one in four of all scald burns among children and is associated with more deaths and hospitalizations than any other hot liquid.
(Source: Safe Kids USA)
According to the Safe Kids USA, hot tap water burns most often occur in the bathroom and tend to be more severe and cover a larger portion of the body than other scald burns. Continuous supervision of young children is the most important factor in preventing tap-water scald burns, but there are additional simple preventive measures that can be taken, including:
These suggestions may seem obvious, but given the statistics, they cannot be repeated too often. Burn Awareness Week is a perfect time to take advantage of the complimentary burn prevention materials available from Shriners Hospitals for Children. These include burn prevention posters, activity books and fact sheets.