Each year, there are nearly 103,000 emergency room visits to treat burns in children. Contact with a hot surface or flame causes the greatest number of injuries. 

The traditional Thanksgiving feast calls for a lot of preparation and cooking. But, when family, friends, and especially children gather in the kitchen, it’s very easy to get distracted and forget about what’s on the stove and who’s in the room.

Experts at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia offer these safety tips to help prevent an accident in the kitchen during the holidays and every day:

Fire prevention

  1. Never leave hot food or appliances unattended while cooking. Furthermore, be alert at all times in the kitchen, and avoid cooking if you are under the influence of medication or alcohol.
  2. Keep flammable objects at least three feet from the stove, toaster oven, or other heat source. In addition, don’t wear clothes that hang too loosely and could pose a fire risk.
  3. Keep stovetop, burners and oven clean as old spills can often cause smoke and/or fire.

Keep emergency information near the phone and close to the kitchen. Include the local fire department phone number, your full home address and phone number, and a neighbor’s name and phone number. You should also keep a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

Burn prevention

  1. Use oven mitts or potholders when carrying hot food. However, be sure oven mitt is dry as it presents a scald danger when wet and the moisture in the mitt is heated.
  2. Open hot containers from the microwave slowly and away from your face.
  3. Never hold a baby or child while cooking, carrying, or drinking hot foods or liquids. In fact, all young children should be at least three feet from any place where there is hot food or liquids, including stoves, countertops, tables and serving areas. In addition, always keep appliance cords coiled, away from counter edges and out of reach of children.
  4. Do not use a tablecloth or placemat if very young children are in the home, as they could tug on these and pull hot food on top of themselves.
  5. When children are old enough, teach them to cook safely, but also, teach them to only cook when they have adult supervision.

Minor burns can be treated with basic first aid supplies. Immerse or hold the burned area under cold running water. Pat dry with a clean, sterile cloth to dry. Then cover the area with gauze as needed to protect the area from bacteria and minimize tenderness and pain.

There is a tendency for families to apply butter or Vaseline in an attempt to treat a burn, but don’t. These products actually retain the heat in the skin and may worsen the pain.

For severe burns, seek medical help immediately.

Safe Kids Greater Augusta, led by Children’s Hospital of Georgia, works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children ages 1 to 14. Safe Kids Greater Augusta is a member of the Safe Kids Worldwide network. To find out more about local Safe Kids programs, call 706-721-7606, or visit

This article appears in the November 2016 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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