With the exception of very small children, everyone knows better than to try to touch an obvious source of heat like an open flame or a red hot coal. However, there is just as much danger in other less obvious sources of heat (including liquids) that can cause severe burns. The damage caused by a burn can cause complications that last for a lifetime—even after the pain fades.
Burns vs. Scalds
A scald caused by something wet (like hot water or steam) may not initially seem as bad as a burn caused by dry heat. In fact, both cause the exact same type of harm to the skin and both are equal in severity. A severe scald can happen in less than five seconds.
In the Kitchen
The kitchen is one of the most common places for burns and scalds. Hot liquids, like soups, instant ramen, hot chocolate, and water boiled for pasta may spill or splash from a stovetop or microwave.
Those who are just learning to cook and small children who are not carefully supervised are those most likely to receive a burn or a scald.
Preventing Scalds and Burns
In order to prevent serious injuries in the kitchen, there are a few safety tips that are easy to follow.
- Use back burners whenever possible—Pots on back burners are less likely to be touched by small children and are less likely to be bumped or jostled, causing a spill.
- Turn handles inward—Pots and pans with the handles turned toward the back of the stove are less likely to catch on loose clothing or be struck by someone walking by.
- Handle hot objects with care—Even microwave-safe dishes can become extremely hot after just a few seconds in the microwave. Lift them and hot pots and pans with proper hand protection or wait until they have cooled.
- Handle products like instant ramen that cook in disposable containers carefully—They spill easily, especially if overfilled with hot water.
- Clean spills immediately—Spilled liquids can still be hot.
Keeping Small Children Safe in the Kitchen
Small children require constant attention in the kitchen and can be more easily hurt by high temperatures than teenagers or adults because their skin is up to 15 times thinner than an adults' skin. To keep children safe, observe the following tips:
- Create a designated play area away from the stove and microwave.
- Make sure someone responsible is near the stove at all times when something is cooking.
- Avoid carrying hot liquids over the heads of small children.
- Keep chairs and stools away from stove area while children are present.
Treating Minor Burns and Scalds
If anyone is burned or scalded, but not severely enough to require medical care, follow these steps:
- Cool the burn with cool or lukewarm water—avoid using lotions or ice.
- Keep fabrics out of contact with the injured area.
- If necessary, cover the burn or scald with plastic wrap to keep it protected.
- Use painkillers as needed. (In the case of small children, follow a doctor's guidelines)