Common causes of burns in children and young people

Common causes of burns in children and young people

Unfortunately, burns and scalds are not uncommon in toddlers and children, but many are preventable.

According to the National Burns Association, 30 babies and toddlers go to hospital with a hot drink burn EVERY DAY.

The following information is designed to help you understand the common causes of injury and what you can do to reduce the risk of them happening:


  • Keep candles, matches and lighters out of children’s sight and reach
  • Have a fireguard in front of electric and gas fires, log burners and open fires
  • Install smoke alarms and check them regularly to ensure they are working and have a fire escape plan that all of the family knows
  • Be careful with flammable materials including fancy dress costumes around flames

Hot Appliances

  • Keep children away from hot oven doors and hobs and keep appliances such as kettles and saucepans out of reach
  • Check appliances cords are not hanging down for children to pull
  • Check hair straighteners and irons are kept out of reach whilst cooling down. Take care around barbecues


  • Children’s skin is a lot more sensitive than adult's skin. Always: slip on a t-shirt, slap on a sunhat and slop on some sun block (Factor 50)


  • Keep children out of the bathroom when not supervised
  • Always run the cold water first into the sink or bath before adding hot
  • Check the temperature with your elbow or thermometer
  • Consider fitting a thermostatic mixer to bath taps which prevents the water getting too hot

In the kitchen

  • Do not allow children to sit or climb on kitchen worktops
  • Point the handles of saucepans away from the front of the hob and move kettles out of the children’s reach

Hot drinks

  • Put all hot drinks out of the reach of toddlers and children. A hot drink can still scald a child 15 minutes after being poured
  • Do not drink hot drinks with a baby on your lap or pass hot drinks over them. Be careful warming milk in hot water- use a bottle warmer if possible

First Aid

  • Stop the heat
  • Remove the hot liquid
  • Put any fire on the child out- make the child stop, drop to the ground and roll on the ground
  • Cool the burn with tepid tap water for 20 minutes and remove clothing and jewellery if it is easy to take off
  • Call for help - 999, 111 or your GP for advice
  • Cover the area with cling film or a sterile non fluffy dressing
  • Keep children warm whilst doing this

Do Not

  • Use anything else on the skin. This includes butter, nappy cream, toothpaste, turmeric or tea leaves
  • Do not aplly ice to the skin
  • Do not try and burst blisters

For further information

Contact the Burns Unit:

Tel: 0151 252 5400

Open 24 hours seven days a week

Alder Hey Children's Charity
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Alder Hey Children's Charity