More burns are caused by hot liquids than by flames. Each year, over 500,000 burns occur due to hot liquids or steam in the United States, referred to as a scald burn, according to the Burn Foundation. Anyone can be scalded, but children under age 5 and adults over 65 are most at risk.
Almost 85% of scald burns occur at home and many happen in the kitchen. It takes only one second for a serious burn to occur if the temperature of a liquid is 156oF. Even at just 133oF, you can get burned in as little as 15 seconds. The good news is that most scalding injuries can be prevented.
Tips to Prevent Scalding in the Kitchen
- Keep small children away from the stove when cooking, turn handles toward the back of the stove and use back burners whenever possible.
- Never hold a child when drinking hot liquids. Watch for children in your path when carrying hot liquids.
- Use caution when removing hot food or liquids from the microwave. Open covers away from your face and body.
- Avoid loose rugs or anything that can cause you to trip or fall.
- Set the temperature on your water heater to no more than 120oF.
- Never leave children unsupervised in the kitchen.
What to Do If Water Scalds Your Skin
Prompt home treatment can sometimes ease the pain, but some scald burns require medical attention, especially if the burn covers a large area. If you’re not sure of how serious a burn is, seek medical attention.
- First-degree burns may be red, swollen and painful. You can often treat them at home unless the burn covers a large area of skin or involves a major joint.
- Second-degree burns may cause swelling, blistering and severe pain and usually require medical attention unless they cover a very small area.
- Get emergency medical care for all third-degree burns, which can make the skin look charred, leathery or white.
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