Babysitting: Dealing With Burns

The most common burns that happen to kids are liquid burns, like scalding by hot water or other hot liquids.

Burns can range from mild to severe. Not all burns require emergency medical care — some can be treated at home.

What to Do

If a child has a burn that is large, a burn that's caused by electricity (as from a live wire) or a chemical (like a household cleaner), or a burn that occurred in a fire:

  • Call 911 immediately and then call the child's parents.
  • Remove clothing from the burned area, except clothing stuck to the skin.
  • Run cool (not cold) water over the burn or place a cool wet cloth on the burn to lessen pain.
  • Gently place a gauze bandage on the burn.
  • Do not apply home remedies, such as butter, or use household ointments.
  • Do not break blisters that have formed.

To help prevent burns:

  • Keep kids away from hot objects like curling irons and radiators.
  • Don't drink hot beverages like hot chocolate, coffee, or tea around babies or children.
  • Know how to find and use all household fire extinguishers.
  • Prepare hot meals only when kids aren't in the kitchen.
  • Check the bathtub water temperature before kids get in.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: October 2010

Kids Health

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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