Ask a Children's Hospital Expert


Q: “I always caution my kids to stay away from the stove, but what do I do if one of them gets a burn?”

A: If your child gets a burn, follow these steps:

Step 1: If the burned area is less than 3 inches in diameter, run it under cold water.

Step 2: If there isn’t any blistering, give pain medication, such as Tylenol or Motrin, as needed. If there is blistering, this could be signs of a serious burn.

Step 3: If the burned area is smaller than the child’s hand, do not pop the blister or apply any antibiotics or ointment or cream. Wrap it loosely in gauze and give pain medication as needed.

Step 4: If the area is larger than the child’s hand or involves the face, palms, soles of feet, or genitalia, seek immediate medical attention.


Q: What is the best way to avoid household burns?

A: To prevent burns, you can take some simple precautions:

• Keep hot food and drinks away from the edges of counters and tables.

• Don’t set hot plates on a tablecloth; children can pull them off.

• Don’t hold your child while drinking hot coffee or tea.

• Keep children away from the stove.

  • Turn pan handles in.
  • Cook on the rear burners when possible.

• Don’t allow children to use the microwave without supervision. Some plastics, paper, and foil may catch on fire.

  • Children may not realize how hot the bottom of a container is after it is microwaved.
  • Steam burns to the face and hands are possible if popcorn, Hot Pockets® or other food containers are opened too soon. Cup Noodles® may spill onto the hands, scalding the child.
  • Burns to the mouth can occur due to unevenly heated food and from food that gets hot quickly, such as peanut butter.
  • Eggs cooked in the shell may explode.

• Make sure your water heater is set to no higher than 120°F. Children can get scalded when they turn on the faucet: If the water is 140°F, they will have a scalding burn in less than 3 seconds.


Watch the video from Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland: