95% of all childhood burns and scalds happen at home. Most are caused in the day-to-day situations that many parents don’t anticipate, like children reaching for hot coffee or stepping on hair straighteners.

We recommend CAPT’s leaflet How safe is your child from burns and scalds? written for parents and carers, for essential advice on preventing these injuries.  You can view samples of all CAPT’s leaflets and place bulk orders in the online shop.

How many children suffer burns and scalds?

  • Each day nine children are admitted to hospital with burns and scalds.
  • In 2008-09 almost 800 under fives were admitted to hospital in England with burns from hot drinks, food, fat and cooking oils.
  • In the five years from 2003-04 to 2008-09, there was a 37% increase in the number of young children being admitted with these kinds of burns.
  • Over 6,500 under fives visit accident and emergency departments each year because of scalds from kettles and hot drinks.

How can we prevent burns and scalds?

It often comes as a surprise to parents just how easily a young child can burn themselves. Because their skin is more delicate than an adult’s, a baby or toddler is more at risk from serious burns.

CAPT’s resources include expert advice about the different stages of a child’s development, and where the risks lie at each stage of development. Our burns and scalds page for parents walks through each of the main dangers in their home.

  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • Bedroom
  • Living room
  • Outside

Our leaflet, How safe is your child from burns and scalds? explains how to manage these risks, and gives first-aid advice that is simple for parents to understand. Our DVD and flyer pack Too hot to handle gives advice on preventing scalds from hot drinks.

You can help to prevent serious accidents by giving parents some key messages. For instance:

  • A hot drink takes 15 minutes to cool down to a temperature that will not scald a young child.
  • Hair straighteners can still burn 8 minutes after being unplugged.
  • When running a bath, put cold water in first and top up with hot.
  • When bathing a baby, bath water should never be hotter than 38 C.

Some safety equipment can also help in preventing burns and scalds. For instance:

  • Appliances such as kettles with short or curly flexes. The curly flex means that the wire coils near the plug, out of the reach of young children.
  • Thermostatic mixing valves (TMVs) on bath taps. They mix hot and cold water to a safe temperature before it comes out of the tap. You should encourage landlords and housing providers to have them fitted.
  • Fireguards. Prevent young children from crawling, walking or falling onto fires.
  • Heatproof bags for hair straighteners. They keep the burning hot straighteners away from young children’s feet and fingers.

More information

CAPT’s range of leaflets and booklets will support you in your work with parents and carers by underlining the key safety messages. The leaflets are written with different stages of child development in mind, and are a key support tool when teaching parents about child accident prevention.

There are other important aspects of accident prevention, such as legislation and the physical, social and financial environment that children and families live in. Find out more about the role of practitioners in preventing childhood injuries and deaths from accidents.