Doctors Hospital of Augusta
February 01, 2016

When a child suffers a severe burn, chances are good it was caused by hot water. The National Center for Health Statistics found that scalds account for 75 percent of burns to kids.

During National Burn Awareness Week (Feb 1 - 7), the Burn Surgeons at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital want to sound the alarm on these mostly preventable injuries.

"These are often some of the most painful burns we treat," said Dr. Mullins, the medical director for the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital, and the president of Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America, Inc. "We see burns ranging from minor skin irritations to large scale, deep tissue injuries. Sometimes the burns can cause problems for the rest of the child's life."

Dr. Mullins said children are vulnerable to scald injuries because their skin is thinner than adults and it takes less time for the injury to occur.

"There are some simple ways to avoid scaled burns in the home," Dr. Mullins said. "The best rule of thumb is to always test the temperature of water before it touches a child."

It's also important to check the thermostat on your hot water heater. It should be set at no higher than 120 degrees. Other tips to avoid scalds, especially those that can occur in the kitchen, include:

  • Create a three-foot "safe zone" around appliances in the kitchen
  • Never leave any unattended items on the stove top, and make sure all handles are out of the reach of children
  • Never drink or carry hot liquids while carrying or holding a child
  • Keep all hot items away from the sides of the table
  • Remember, items heated in the microwave can be exceptionally hot and cause internal burns
  • Try to avoid using tablecloths which could allow a child to pull hot liquids off a table.