Hot Liquids Burn Like Fire

Thousands of scald burns occur annually in the U.S., and the two highest risk populations are children under the age of 4 and adults over 65.

  Did you know?
  • Hot liquids can cause life-threatening burn injuries.
  • Scalds are the number one cause of burn injury to children under age 4.
  • Coffee, tea, soup and hot tap water can be hot enough to cause a serious burn injury.
  • Scald and steam burns are often associated with microwave oven use.
  • When hot tap water reaches 147° F, it can cause a third degree burn in just 1 second.
  • Hot tap water accounts for 17% of all childhood scald hospitalizations.
Scalds in the Kitchen
  • Keep children out of the "traffic path" and check their location before moving any hot liquids in the kitchen.
  • Keep pot handles turned toward the back of the stove. Cook on the rear burners when possible.
  • Test all heated liquid and food before giving it to a child or placing it within their reach.
  • Remove tablecloths when toddlers are present in the home. They tug and pull on everything within reach. Hot liquids can easily be pulled down on them.
  • Never hold a child while drinking a hot liquid.
  • Use caution when moving heavy pots or hot liquids from the stove.
  • Avoid using area rugs in the kitchen, especially near the stove. They can cause falls and scalds.
Scalds and Microwave Ovens
  • Read and follow the directions for the operation of the microwave oven.
  • Be careful when removing coverings or lids from microwaved foods. Puncture plastic wrap before heating foods in the microwave.
  • Stir foods to distribute the heat. Many microwaves have a tendency to heat from the inside out toward the edge.
  • Extreme caution should be exercised when heating baby bottles or baby food. The amount of food/liquid to be heated, the starting temperature of the food/liquid (refrigerator or room temperature), and the specific microwave setting you select will influence the final temperature.
  • Follow microwave guidelines on baby formula, baby food jars, plastic bottles and plastic bottle liners.
Hot Tap Water and Scald Burns
  • Never leave young child unattended in the bath room or tub.
  • Use extreme caution if bathing small children in the sink. Many sinks have single lever faucets which are easy for small children to turn on.
  • Adjust the thermostat settings on your water heater to produce a temperature of 120°F to 125°F or less.
  • Before placing a child into the bath, test the temperature of the water by moving your hand rapidly through the water for several seconds. The temperature should not exceed 100°F. A child's delicate skin will burn more quickly than an adult's skin.
  • Consider installing "anti-scald" devices on tub faucets and shower heads to prevent accidental scalds.
Continuous and adequate supervision of young children is the single most important factor in preventing tap water scald burns.

Burn Institute, San Diego, CA
Shriners Bum Institute, Cincinnati, OH