As you may know from dumping a pot of pasta into a collider in the sink, a scald injury can happen to anyone of any age. However, young children and persons with disabilities are more likely to get severely injured from scald burns.

Most scald burns are caused by hot liquid or steam and mainly occur during daily activities such as bathing, cooking or eating. Most young children do not understand the risks associated with hot foods or liquids and trust in adults to keep them safe. Children’s skin is thinner and burns more easily than an adult’s. Scald burns are the most common burn injury among children ages 4 and under.  According to Safe Kids USA, an average of 12 children ages 14 and under die from scald burn injuries each year.

Continuous supervision is the most important tool in preventing scald burns. Safe Kids Worldwide has the following suggestions in preventing scald burns:

  • Stay in the kitchen while you cook.
  • Test hot food before giving it to your child.
  • Don’t carry a hot drink when you are also carrying your child.
  • Do not use tablecloths or placemats because young children can grab and pull them down, spilling hot food or drink onto themselves.

When running a child’s bath, start with cold, and then add hot water. When children are in or near the tub never leave them unsupervised, even for a few seconds.

  • Set your water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Use a bath thermometer and make sure the water is not too hot.
  • Test the water before your child gets into the tub.

Time & Temperature (in Fahrenheit) Relationship to Severe Burns (


If a burn does occur, cool it with cool water for 3-5 minutes right away. Do not put ice, butter or lotion on the burn. Contact your doctor or call 911 if the burn looks bad.

The University of Vermont Medical Center Trauma and Burn Center can be reached at 802-847-3790. We offer excellence in trauma surgery, burn-related surgery and surgical critical care. As Vermont’s only Level I Trauma Center-and the first in the U.S. to be verified for both children and adults-you can be assured that you and your family have access to the most advanced trauma surgery and surgical critical care available in the event of a serious injury or accident.

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