Every year more than 500,000 people suffer scalding burns. Young children are at the highest risk for scalding water burns.
While many of these burns can be treated with simple first aid, severe scalding water burns can lead to permanent disfigurement and even death. Most scalding water burns in children are preventable if you follow a few safety practices.
Leading Causes of Scalding Water Burns on Children
The most common causes of burns, specifically scalding water burns on children, are thoroughly discussed below:
- Sipping or spilling hot drinks: Children may accidentally sip or spill hot beverages, resulting in scalding burns. It can occur when a child pulls down a cup of coffee or tea from a table, unknowingly exposing themselves to the scalding liquid. In some cases, adults may underestimate the temperature of a beverage, leading to scalding burns on a child’s lips from a mug of hot cider or hot chocolate.
- Boiling liquids in pans or kettles pulled down by curious children: Curious children may unintentionally pull down pans or kettles containing boiling liquids, which can cause severe scalding burns. This often happens when a child sees a panhandle hanging over the edge of a stove and accidentally pours the scalding contents onto their body. Older children rushing past an oven might accidentally catch the handle of a pot, resulting in the spilling of hot contents on themselves.
- Tap water set too high: Scalding water burns can also occur due to tap water set at excessively high temperatures. A child can burn their hands while attempting to use the sink for washing, or when unsupervised, they may turn on the faucet and unintentionally burn themselves. Caretakers who fail to test the water temperature or neglect to monitor children in the bathtub closely can also lead to scalding burns.
While scalding water burns on children are a significant concern, it is essential to note that burns can also result from various other causes. Burns can stem from hot objects, liquids, or gases, flames, caustic chemicals, radiation, and electrical currents. Thermal burns, for instance, can be caused by hot objects, liquids, and gases, such as hot pans, hot water, or steam. It is crucial to recognize that burns from hot liquids and gases are particularly dangerous, as their spreading nature allows them to contact larger areas of the body compared to solid objects.
Moreover, burns occur due to a chemical process that damages or destroys the body’s tissues. When body tissues come into contact with something hot, the cell walls burst, and the proteins undergo a change similar to how a piece of meat cooks in a hot pan or in boiling water.
While scalding water burns on children is a notable focus, it is vital to understand the broader range of causes and the physiological changes that occur when burns happen.
This comprehensive understanding will aid in prevention and ensure the overall well-being and safety of individuals in various burn-related situations.”
Why a Burn is so Dangerous for Children
Children’s skin burns more easily than adults’ skin. Infants and young children are especially sensitive to different temperatures. Water relaxing to an adult may cause severe burns on a baby, requiring skin grafts and years of treatment.
Young children are naturally curious, and they are unstable in their mobility. This also contributes to them being more likely to experience scalding water burns.
Children cannot remove themselves from the burning source, making them more likely to suffer third-degree burns. A scalding burn may require years of painful treatments and leave behind permanent scars.
Because children are much smaller than an adult, even a scalding burn on a small surface area of skin can send their bodies into shock and cause secondary issues. A burn that may be less only than five percent of the skin surface area of an adult could be over fifty percent of the skin surface area of an infant.
What to Do After Your Child Has Been Burned
Many scalding burns can be treated with first aid. The first thing you need to do after a child has been burned is to remove whatever is causing the burn. Next, you will need to assess the seriousness of the burn. Take your child to get immediate medical attention if:
- The burn is larger than the size of their hand
- The skin where the child was burned becomes white or looks charred, regardless of the size of the burn
- Burns that cause blisters
- The burn oozes or looks infected
- The child develops a fever or seems weak
- The child doesn’t immediately feel any pain from the burn
If the scalding burn is superficial, it will cause immediate pain, and the skin will become pink or red. You can treat this burn at home. However, if the burn worsens or the child develops the above symptoms later, you need to take the child to get immediate medical attention.
When treating a superficial hot water scalding burn on a child, immediately soak the skin in lukewarm water. Do not use cold water or ice on the burn.
This can cause more damage to the skin. Keep the burn under lukewarm water for five to fifteen minutes. The child should report that the burn feels slightly better after the soaking, but they will still be in pain.
You can cover the burn with non-stick gauze. Do not cover the burn with grease, butter, or any ointment unless directed to use an antibiotic ointment by your doctor.
You should pop no blisters. You can give your child over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen under the directions on the packaging.
If you have questions about the burn or the treatment of the burn, consult with your pediatrician.
How Are Burn Severity Determined?
Burn severity levels are rated based on a scale that consists of three levels. The first level is known as a first-degree burn, which affects only the outermost layer of the skin, known as the epidermis. This type of burn is considered the least severe and typically results in symptoms such as pain, redness, and swelling. Home care measures like applying ice and using loose bandages are commonly sufficient for treating first-degree burns. It is also recommended to consult a doctor for the application of antibiotic cream or ointment.
The second level is categorized as a second-degree burn, which affects both the epidermis and the layer beneath it, known as the dermis. These burns can cause pain, redness, swelling, blistering, peeling skin, and the development of seeping wounds. They are considered harmful because of the potential for infection and the possibility of minor scarring. However, with proper home care and the application of antibiotic medication, second-degree burns can usually heal effectively.
The most severe level is a third-degree burn, also referred to as a full-thickness burn. This type of burn extends through both the epidermis and dermis, leading to the destruction of these layers. Interestingly, due to the destruction of nerve endings in the dermis, third-degree burns may produce less pain compared to second-degree burns. The affected skin appears gray and dry, often resembling the texture of leather. Third-degree burns can cause life-threatening symptoms and may result in complications, including disfigurement.
In summary, doctors evaluate burn severity using a rating scale with three levels: first-degree burns that affect the outermost layer of the skin, second-degree burns that extend into the deeper layers of the skin, and third-degree burns that damage both the epidermis and dermis. Each level presents distinct symptoms and potential complications, with third-degree burns being the most severe and requiring immediate medical attention.
What Types of Compensation Can be Sought for Child Burn Injuries?
Various types of compensation can be pursued when seeking compensation for child burn injuries. These include both economic and non-economic losses.
1. Economic losses: This category covers the financial expenses incurred due to the burn injuries. It encompasses the cost of past and future medical treatments, including doctor visits, surgeries, medications, and therapies (both physical and mental). Additionally, economic losses may also include compensation for any future income losses if the burns have resulted in a permanent disability, limiting the child’s ability to work in the future.
2. Non-economic losses: Non-economic losses refer to the intangible impact of the burn injuries on the child’s life. These losses can include the pain and suffering experienced by the child, both physically and mentally. Disfigurement caused by the burns, which may alter the child’s appearance, could also be considered non-economic losses. Moreover, the long-term effects of disability, such as reduced quality of life and decreased enjoyment, are also considered.
By engaging the services of a knowledgeable Houston personal injury lawyer, you can pursue compensation for these economic and non-economic losses in Texas. The aim is to secure your child’s future and hold those responsible for the burn injuries accountable.
Safety Tips to Avoid Scalding Water Burns
Take steps to prevent accidental hot water scalding burns on your children. Some of the most important steps you can take are:
- Always ensure that panhandles are pointed towards the back of the stove and not hanging over the edge
- Keep all hot drinks out of the reach of children
- Never leave children unattended in the kitchen
- Never leave children unattended in the bathtub
- Make sure the temperature of your water heater is set below 120°F
- Test the temperature of bathwater with your elbow
- Allow hot beverages to cool before giving them to children
- Use spill-proof lids for your hot beverages
While children under the age of five are the most at risk for hot water scalding burns, even older children and teenagers sometimes accidentally burn themselves.
Teach your children how to be safe in the kitchen. Make sure children understand how to use the stove and microwave safely. Also, teach your children what to do if they do burn themselves.
Investing time in some basic safety practices and lessons could save your child’s life.
Contact a Leading Houston Child Injury Lawyer at Baumgartner Law Firm
If your child was burned because of the negligence of another, contact Baumgartner Law Firm for a no-obligation consultation with a preeminent rated personal injury lawyer in Houston about your rights and options.
Call 281-587-1111 or fill out the consultation request!
6711 Cypress Creek Pkwy, Houston, TX, 77069