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Burns


From kids washing up under a too-hot faucet to an accidental tipping of a coffee cup, burns are a potential hazard in every home. In fact, burns, especially scalds from hot water and liquids, are some of the most common childhood accidents.

Babies and young children are especially at risk — they're curious, small, and have sensitive skin that needs extra protection.

Burns Instruction Sheet

Although some minor burns aren't cause for concern and can be safely treated at home, other more serious burns require medical care. But taking some simple precautions to make your home safer can prevent many burns.

Common Causes

The first step in helping to prevent kids from being burned is to understand these common causes of burns:

Types of Burns

Burns are often categorized as first-, second-, or third-degree, depending on how badly the skin is damaged. Each of the injuries above can cause any of these three types of burns. The type of burn and its cause will determine how the burn is treated.

All burns should be treated quickly to reduce the temperature of the burned area and reduce damage to the skin and underlying tissue (if the burn is severe).

First-Degree Burns

First-degree burns, the mildest of the three, are limited to the top layer of skin:

Second-Degree Burns

Second-degree burns are more serious and involve the skin layers beneath the top layer:

Third-Degree Burns

Third-degree burns are the most serious type of burn and involve all the layers of the skin and underlying tissue:

What to Do

Seek Medical Help Immediately When:

For First-Degree Burns:

For Second- and Third-Degree Burns:

What to Do (continued)

For Flame Burns:

For Electrical and Chemical Burns:

Although both chemical and electrical burns might not always be visible, they can be serious because of potential damage to internal organs. Symptoms may vary, depending on the type and severity of the burn and what caused it.

If you think your child may have swallowed a chemical substance or an object that could be harmful (for instance, a watch battery), first call poison control and then the emergency department.

It is helpful to know what chemical product the child has swallowed or has been exposed to. You may need to take it with you to the hospital. Keep the number for poison control, (800) 222-1222, in an easily accessible place, such as on the refrigerator.

Preventing Burns

You can't keep kids free from injuries all the time, but these simple precautions can reduce the chances of burns in your home:

In General

Bathroom

Preventing Burns (continued)

Kitchen/Dining Room

Outside/In the Car

Reviewed by: Scott A. Barron, MD
Date reviewed: September 2015


Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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