Burn awareness can keep kids safe from scalds

You can take simple steps to reduce hazards at home, where the vast majority of these preventable injuries happen

It takes only a moment, but the damage from scalding hot  liquids can last your child a lifetime. Scald – the most common cause of burns to children – were the focus of the 17th annual Burn Awareness Week.

Burn Awareness Week ran from Feb. 3-9, and provided opportunities for  parents, caregivers and children to learn how to prevent scalds and other burns.

You can take simple steps to reduce hazards at home, where the vast majority of these preventable injuries happen.

Research shows the majority of Canadian parents are not aware that the most common cause of burn injuries to children is scalds from hot liquids, such as spilled hot drinks and hot tap water.

Here are some valuable tips.


In the bathroom:

  • Adjust the temperature on your hot water heater to 49 Celsius (120 Fahrenheit). Most home hot water heaters in Canada are set at 60°C (140°F). At that temperature, a child’s skin can burn in one second.
  • If you are unable to control the temperature that comes out of your hot water heater, install scald-resistant faucets in sinks, showers and bathtubs that children use. These fixtures have built-in thermostats to control the maximum temperature of the water. Set the thermostat so that the water temperature does not exceed 50°C (120°F).
  • When using taps, turn cold water on first, then add hot water and adjust the temperature. Reverse the order when turning water off: hot water off first, then cold.
  • Always test young children’s bath and sink water before they use it. Never leave bathing children unattended. They may turn on the hot water or slip in your absence.


In the kitchen:

  • Keep hot liquids like coffee, soup and tea in a mug with a tight-fitting lid, such as a travel cup.
  • When cooking, ensure pot handles are out of children’s reach and turned toward the back of the stove. Teach your children never to touch anything on the stovetop or open the oven.


In the living room:

  • Make sure to place a barrier around your gas fireplace. The glass of a gas fireplace can heat up to 200°C (400°F) in just six minutes and take 45 minutes to cool down.


Other tips:

  • Teach children about the dangers of fire and supervise them.
  • When outdoors, keep your child away from barbecue grills and campfires.
  • If your child is burned, place the burned area in, or flush it with, cool water as quickly as possible. Keep the burned area in the cool water for 10 to 15 minutes. Never use ice, ointments or butter.


Quick facts:

  • Burn Awareness Week is an annual event led by the British Columbia Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.
  • Firefighters in more than 53 communities in British Columbia and the Yukon work to support the efforts of the Burn Fund to increase the public’s knowledge of burn awareness.
  • The province provides safety tips in support of Burn Awareness Week activities and, on a year-round basis, through the Getting to Know Fire public fire and life safety education program. This program covers everything from fire safety when cooking to fire extinguisher use, with modules specifically developed to meet the needs of everyone from young children to teens to adults. Fire service personnel deliver this program in schools and communities throughout British Columbia.


Learn more:


  • Everyone is encouraged to access more information on fire and burn safety, as well as a Burn Awareness Week education kit, at: www.burnfund.org
  • In 2012, the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, in partnership with the BC Children’s Hospital, launched a new program for early childhood educators called Too Hot for Tots.