Safety Facts on Scalding Injuries

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Bothin Burn Center

Safety Facts on Burn Injuries and Scalding Injuries

Hot Liquids Burn Like Fire

Hot liquids can cause life threatening burns and are the leading cause of burn injursies in children under the age of four.

Important Information to Help Avoid Burn Injuries:

  • Scalds and burn accidents frequently occur when parents or caregivers are in a hurry, angry, or under a lot of pressure or stress.
  • Coffee, tea, soup and hot tap water can be hot enough to cause serious burn injury.
  • Scald and steam burns are often associated with microwave oven use.
  • When tap water reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit, it can cause a third degree (full thickness) burn in just five seconds.
  • Hot tap water accounts for 17% of all childhood scald hospitalizations.
  • 60-70% of all pediatric patients seen in the Bothin Burn Center have a scald injury.

Recommendations to Prevent Scald Injuries:

  • Provide continuous supervision of children in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Keep all hot liquids at a safe distance from children - keep pot handles turned toward the back of the stove.
  • Test all heated liquid/food before giving it to a child or placing it within his/her reach.
  • Never hold a child while drinking a hot liquid.
  • Purchase appliances with short cords, and keep all cords from dangling over counter edges.
  • Before placing a child into the bath or getting into the tub yourself, test the temperature of the water by moving your hand rapidly through the water for several seconds. The temperature should not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit (a child's delicate skin burns more quickly than an adult's).
  • Never leave a child unattended in the bathroom or bathtub.
  • Use extreme caution bathing a child in a kitchen sink with a single-lever faucet - these are easy for a child to turn on.
  • Adjust your thermostat setting on your water heater to produce a water temperature of 120-125 degrees or less.


  • in 1 second at 156 degrees
  • in 2 seconds at 149 degrees
  • in 5 seconds at 140 degrees
  • in 15 seconds at 133 degrees

If you have questions regarding burn care or treatment, call the Bothin Burn Center 24/7 at 415-353-6255.

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Saint Francis Memorial Hospital
900 Hyde St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 353-6000