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Facts for Life

Injury prevention

Supporting Information


Burns can be prevented by keeping children away from fires, cooking stoves, hot liquids and foods, and exposed electric wires.

Why it is important - All key messages - First aid advice - Resources

Burning and scalding are among the most common causes of serious injury among young children. Burns often cause permanent scarring, and some are fatal. The great majority of these are preventable.

One of the most common types of burns is from direct contact with fires or flames or touching hot surfaces. To prevent this kind of burn:

  • keep young children away from cooking fires, matches, paraffin lamps, candles and flammable liquids such as paraffin and kerosene
  • put stoves on a flat, raised surface out of the reach of children
  • if an open cooking fire is used, make it on a raised mound of clay, not directly on the ground. A barrier of mud, bamboo or other material or a playpen can also be used to keep young children out of reach of the cooking place.
  • do not leave small children alone near fires or to tend fires or cook
  • keep children away from heaters, hot irons and other hot appliances
  • never leave a child alone in a room with a candle or fire burning.

Another major cause of burns is scalding from hot liquids or foods. To prevent scalds:

  • turn the handles of all cooking pots away from the reach of children
  • keep hot foods and liquids in a safe place and out of children's reach
  • do not let children turn on the hot water tap in a bath or shower by themselves
  • keep the temperature of water heaters below a medium setting to prevent scalding if children turn on the hot water
  • teach children not to play rough around people with hot drinks or in the kitchen when meals are being prepared
  • never hold a child when having hot liquids or foods.

Children can get a serious shock or burn if they come in contact with electricity. To prevent shocks and burns:

  • teach children never to put their fingers or other objects into electric sockets
  • cover power sockets to prevent access
  • keep electric wires out of children's reach
  • cover bare electric wires, which are particularly dangerous, using insulating tape.

For first aid advice on burns, refer to the end of this chapter.

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