Preventing burns to children

November 12, 2009 3:20:05 PM PST
Three hundred children with burns are treated daily in emergency rooms across the country. A recent study found these numbers are actually down over the last 17 years, except for one group of kids. The study, in the journal "Pediatrics" examined burn records and found that kids most at risk for burn injuries at home are those under the age of 6. And toddlers can be a parents biggest worry.

Mom's kitchen can be full of fun, but for a toddler, it can also be full of danger. Danette McKinney's daughter Lilly loves to help her mom cook, but that eagerness resulted in an unforseen burn accident.

"My husband was checking on the lasagna that was in the oven, and she snuck right around him and just put her hands right on the oven door," Danette said.

Toddlers can move fast, before moms and dads even notice. That day, Lilly was left with second-degree burns on both hands. She spent a night in the hospital and weeks in bandages.

Researcher Dr. Lara McKinzie recently examined burn records in emergency departments.

"We found that the kids under age 6 were actually injured the most," she said. "They represent about 60 percent of all burn-related injuries."

Burns could come through scalding from hot liquids, or like Lilly, from contact burns.

"For younger children, particularly kids under 6, they have thinner skin than older children or adults," Dr. McKinzie said. "And they'll actually burn faster even when exposure time is short."

If younger children are in the kitchen, there are some safety precautions parents can practice.

Keep children a safe distance from hot liquids and hot surfaces, possibly even in a high chair or a playpen. But don't put baby walkers where they can reach the stove. Use extra caution if using a deep fryer and a child is around. Keep pot handles turned in so they can't be pulled or knocked off the stove.

"In a blink of an eye, they can be right behind you, in the kitchen," Danette said. "You know, they could be in the other room and second later they could be right next to you while you're cooking something."

"I think we tend to underestimate the reach and ability of children, young children, especially toddlers," Dr. McKinzie said. "They can really reach a lot of surfaces and different hazards."

It is also about giving that little extra thought to the possibility of what that child can do when he or she is in the kitchen. Dr McKinzie' research has also found children under age 6 are at high risk of near drownings in hot tubs.