Burns and scalds prevention

Every year almost 1000 children in NSW under five present to hospital with serious burn injuries. More than half of these burns happen in the kitchen, while most other burns happen in other places around the house, the backyard, and places of sport and recreation (Australian Burns Injury Service ACI, 2017).

Common causes of burns in children include hot food and drinks, kitchen appliances, heaters, irons, treadmills and barbeques. Spilled hot soup, noodles, tea and coffee can take less than a second to cause a serious burn.

Children’s skin burns deeper, quicker and at lower temperatures compared to adults. Families suffer guilt and blame, while children usually suffer with pain and scarring that can lead to body image and self-esteem problems.

How you can prevent scalds in children:

  • Supervise young children at all times when they are in or around the kitchen and bathroom
  • Keep hot foods and drinks and all kitchen appliances out of reach of young children
  • Take care when serving or walking with hot drinks when young children are around
  • Check the temperature of the water before putting a young child in the bath.

How you can prevent other common burns in children:

  • Keep all electrical equipment which heat up out of reach of children, including heaters, kettles, irons and hair straiteners. Unplug after use and store away 
  • Install a heat resistant guard around heaters or fireplaces and secure it to the wall or floor
  • Store matches and lighters in a locked cabinet or where children can't reach them
  • Only use a treadmill when young children are not in the room, install a safety guard around it and unplug after use
  • Install smoke alarms on all levels of your home and close to bedrooms
  • Closely supervise children around barbeques and do not use flammable liquids
  • Always supervise children near a campfire
  • Do not throw aerosols into a campfire or add accelerants of any type.

If your child has suffered a burn:

  • Use cool running water on the burn for exactly 20 minutes
  • Remove clothing and jewellery, if possible
  • Call 000 (Triple Zero) or seek medical help if you are unsure or concerned
  • Never use ice, iced water, cream, gel, toothpaste or butter on a burn as they can make the burn worse.

Note: Using cool water for 20 minutes is effective within 3 hours of the burn incident.

Free online module on burns first aid 

Click HERE to complete a FREE online e-learning module to give you knowledge on how to perform correct first aid for common types of burns including scalds, flame, friction, electrical and chemical burns.

Detailed safety fact sheets

For detailed information on how to prevent common burns in children, refer to our Related Fact sheets on the side menu of this page.

Burns prevention in schools

For information and posters developed for schools aimed at preventing burn injuries in the school environment, please visit the burns resources for schools page.

Health Promotion Programs from Kids Health


Learn to Stop Burns and Scalds in the Kitchen, Children aged 0-5 years

Kids Health coordinated a pilot burns and scalds prevention project with Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services in the Blacktown LGA for children under the age of five with a specific focus on the kitchen. The final report (May 2016) on this project is available in the downloads section below.

A brochure, poster and first aid for burns magnet is available in the downloads section below and free printed copies can be ordered through our online order form.

In 2018, Kids Health is coordinating a second pilot of the Learn to Stop Burns and Scalds in the Kitchen project with ECEC services in the Cumberland LGA and Central Coast LGA. There is potential for expansion of the project across NSW after evaluation of this pilot is completed.

Learn to Stop Burns! Primary Schools Program, Game

The Learn to Stop Burns! Program involves an interactive burns prevention game aimed at primary school aged children. It has been produced by Kids Health in collaboration with the Burns Unit at the Children's Hospital at Westmead, Kidsafe NSW and the NSW Severe Burn Injury Service.

The game allows entry to a virtual home where each room can be navigated to search for the potential burn dangers in everyday life. When the user clicks on the animations in the bathroom, kitchen, lounge room and backyard, they are given information on how to prevent this burn from happening. There is a quiz at the end to test the users knowledge! This game can be completed by children themselves or as a class facilitated by their teacher.

Click here to play Learn to Stop Burns! Online.

Click here to order a copy of the Learn to Stop Burns! Program on CD.

Learn to Stop Burns! Primary School Program, Teachers Resource

A teaching resource was developed to complement the Learn to Stop Burns! program, containing suggested teaching and learning activities. The activities allow students to work towards achieving the Stage Two and Stage Three outcomes in the Safe Living category of the K-6 Syllabus Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE).

In 2008, Kids Health piloted the program with 89 students in NSW (aged between 8-12 years), and found an 18% increase in burns prevention knowledge. Teachers reported that it was "a great unit" and the "interactive nature of the program was excellent. Plenty of suggested support resources for teachers which provided background knowledge before teaching." This pilot was kindly funded by the Greater Metropolitan Clinical Taskforce (GMCT).

The Learn to Stop Burns! Teachers Resource is available in the downloads section below.

Click here to order a copy of Learn to Stop Burns! on CD.