Burn Safety Check List

Click on a question to see the answer.

Do you keep hot liquids out of baby's reach?

Spilled hot liquids are the major cause of infant burns. Hot coffee is 175F. Even with milk in it, it is more than hot enough to burn your baby seriously. It takes a baby only a split-second to grab for a coffee cup from a table, or even from your hand while you are talking or your attention is elsewhere. If it happens, quickly remove any clothing that could keep the hot liquid in contact with the baby's skin.

Is your water heater thermostat turned down?

If your water heater is turned up all the way, your hot water is dangerously hot. Turn down the thermostat. 140F is plenty hot enough for washing clothes and dishes. Even at 140F, hot water can burn a baby. The skin goes on "cooking" for some time afterward. If it happens, use plenty of cool water on the burned area right away.

Do you keep baby away from hot stuff?

One dangerous thing about radiators, space heaters, fireplaces, and stoves is that they are not always hot. Baby can touch them one time with perfect safety, yet the next time be severely burned. Until babies are old enough to understand that cool objects can become hot, they should be protected from those objects when hot. If the baby come in contact with a hot surface, quickly flush the skin with cool water.

Are you careful with electrical appliances?

What baby can resist pulling at an electric cord? The simplest way to prevent the baby from pulling a hot coffee pot, frying pan, or crock pot down on him or herself is to put the baby in a high chair or playpen so that all cords and appliances are out of reach.

Are your electrical outlets blocked?

A wall outlet is an eye-level temptation for a baby's exploring fingers, and an intriguing place to insert a metal toy or fork. You can buy inexpensive plastic inserts for unused outlets (and the ends of extension cords).

Are electric cords under control?

Babies put everything in their mouths. If an electric cord is lying around, that will be popped in, too. Always disconnect an appliance from the wall outlet before removing the plug from the appliance.

Are your cleaning supplies safely stored?

If you have ever held detergent powder in a wet hand, you know how much heat it can generate. Other chemicals are even more dangerous: drain openers, oven cleaners, lye, bleaches, ammonia, flashlight batteries. Keep them stored away from baby's explorations, preferably in high cupboards, and, best of all, with the cupboard doors locked or, at least securely fastened shut.

Do you buy flame-retardant clothes?

All fabrics will burn, but some provide more protection than others. Polyester and nylon are less flammable than wool, and wool is less flammable than untreated cotton. Tight weaves are more flame-resistant than loose ones, shiny finishes more resistant than fluffy ones. All children's sleepwear up to size 14 is required by law to be flame retardant. Flame-retardant clothing other than sleepwear is available in some stores. The washing care instructions should be followed to maintain the maximum effectiveness of the flame retardant. Flame-retardant does not mean fireproof, but it does mean that your baby will be far safer than wearing fabrics that are notflame-retardant.

Are your babysitters well informed?

Review this burn safety checklist with the babysitter. Do not allow babysitters to smoke on the job or to do any unnecessary cooking. Make sure they know where the fire extinguisher and alternate exits are, and that they have emergency phone numbers.

Is your whole family burn-educated?

Older brothers and sisters, for instance, enjoy playing parent. They must be made aware of the hazards of burns, both to themselves and to the baby. Unless you are sure they are as burn-safety conscious as you yourself are, you should not leave them unsupervised with the baby.

Do you have emergency equipment, just in case?

A common source of fire in the kitchen is burning grease. If it happens:

  1. If you have a cover, place it on the burning pot to smother the flames.
  2. Turn off the heat.
  3. Do not pick up the pot. Do not put water on the fire. (That could cause a fireball that could engulf your kitchen in flames).
  4. Use an extinguisher. The best kind is a dry chemical household fire extinguisher. Second best is a can filled with baking soda; just pour it on to put the fire out.

Is your family fire-trained?

A family fire drill a couple of times a year can give you great peace of mind. Plan escape routes from your house in case of fire, and practice using them. Review and practice with your children how to stop, drop, and roll if clothing catches fire. Talk about the dangers of playing with matches, smoldering cigarette butts, and how to call for emergency help (from the house or a street call box). In Onondaga County and many other areas, call 911 for emergency help. If you live in an area that does not have 911 service, make sure you keep the phone numbers of the fire department, police or sheriff department, and ambulance next to your telephone

Do you know about smoke detectors?

Smoke detectors give ample warning of fire even though you may not be able to see or smell anything. Install smoke detectors on every level of your home, including the basement and outside each sleeping area. Test smoke detectors every month and replace batteries once a year or whenever a detector "chirps" to signal low battery power. Replace detectors that are more than 10 years old. It is a state law that every home have a working smoke detector.