Preventing burns and scalds 

Many severe burns and scalds affect babies and young children. The following advice can help reduce the likelihood of your child having a serious accident.

In the kitchen

  • it's best to keep your toddler out of the kitchen, well away from kettles, saucepans and hot oven doors – you could put a safety gate across the doorway to stop them getting in
  • use a kettle with a short or curly cord to stop it hanging over the edge of the work surface, where it could be grabbed
  • when cooking, use the rings at the back of the cooker and turn saucepan handles towards the back so your child can't grab them

In the bathroom

  • never leave a child under five alone in the bath, even for a moment
  • fit a thermostatic mixing valve to your bath's hot tap to control the temperature
  • put cold water into the bath first, then add the hot water – use your elbow to test the temperature of the water before you put your baby or toddler in the bath

Throughout the home

  • put your iron, hair straighteners or curling tongs out of reach while they cool down after you've finished using them
  • fit fireguards to all fires and heaters
  • keep matches, lighters and lit candles out of young children's sight and reach

Hot drinks

  • keep hot drinks well away from young children – a hot drink can still scald 20 minutes after it was made
  • put hot drinks down before you hold your baby
  • after warming a bottle of milk, shake the bottle well and test the temperature of the milk by placing a few drops on the inside of your wrist before feeding – it should feel lukewarm, not hot
  • don't let your child drink a hot drink through a straw

Preventing sunburn

  • encourage your child to play in the shade – under trees, for example – especially between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest
  • keep babies under the age of six months out of direct sunlight, especially around midday
  • cover your child up in loose, baggy cotton clothes, such as an oversized T-shirt with sleeves
  • get your child to wear a floppy hat with a wide brim that shades their face and neck
  • cover exposed parts of your child's skin with sunscreen, even on cloudy or overcast days – use a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or above and is effective against UVA and UVB
  • reapply sunscreen often throughout the day – even water-resistant sunscreens should be reapplied after you come out of the water

Page last reviewed: 16/11/2015

Next review due: 16/11/2017