Learn about prevention during Burn Awareness Week


Scald injuries affect all ages. Young children and the elderly are most vulnerable. This is why Michigan State Fire Marshal Richard Miller, E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire & Safety, and the American Burn Association want to provide you with information on scald injury prevention.

Scald burns are the second leading cause of all burn injuries. Annually in the United States and Canada, more than 500,000 people receive medical treatment for burn injuries. Roughly half of these injuries are scalds. Most burns occur in the home, usually in the kitchen or bathroom.

“Scalds can be prevented through increased awareness of scald hazards and by making simple environmental or behavioral changes,” according to Firefighter Michael McLeieer of E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire & Safety. “These changes include providing a ‘three-foot-kid-safe zone’ while preparing and serving hot foods and beverages, and lowering the water heater thermostat to deliver water at a temperature not to exceed 120 degrees since tap water scalds are often more severe than cooking-related scalds,” according to McLeieer.

Burn Awareness Week, observed the first full week in February, is designed to provide an opportunity for burn, fire and life safety educators to unite in sharing a common burn awareness and prevention message in our communities throughout Michigan and across the country.

Tips to prevent burns and scalds:

  • Set home water heater thermostats to deliver water at a temperature no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. An easy method to test this is to allow hot water to run for three to five minutes, then test with a candy, meat or water thermometer.
  • Provide constant adult supervision of young children or anyone who is bathing and may experience difficulty removing themselves from hot water on their own.
  • Avoid flushing toilets, running water, or using dish or clothes washers while anyone is showering.
  • In the kitchen, turn pot handles back, away from the stove’s edge and use back burners when young children are present.
  • Use dry oven mitts or potholders. Hot cookware can heat moisture in a potholder or hot pad, resulting in a scald burn.
  • Open microwaved food slowly and away from the face.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
  • Establish a “kid-safe-zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove, hot liquids and hot foods. The “kid-safe zone” should be an area out of the traffic path between the stove and sink where children can safely play and still be supervised.
  • Never hold a child while you are cooking, drinking a hot liquid, or carrying hot foods or liquids.

General first aid for burns and scalds:

  • Treat a burn right away by putting it in cool water. Cool the burn for fifteen to twenty minutes.
  • Cover burn with a clean, dry cloth. Do not apply creams, ointments, sprays or other home remedies.
  • Remove all clothing, diapers, jewelry and metal from the burned area. These can hide underlying burns and retain heat, which can increase skin damage.

For more information about preventing scald burns, visit the E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital or American Burn Association websites.


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