Burns and Scalds

Burns & Scalds

Severe burn injury can be life threatening, and even small burns can be dangerous for young children. All are painful and can have a lasting impact on your life.

The majority of burns are PREVENTABLE and by being aware and making small changes, you can help to keep you and your family safe!

Children Under 5

The most common type of burn injury for children aged 0–5 years is scalds. A scald is a burn caused by hot liquid or steam.

Most scald burns in this age group are due to young children mimicking adult behaviour. This frequently results in burn injuries caused by pulling down hot drinks off tables, reaching up to grab handles of saucepans or by playing with the taps in the bath.

To learn more about how to prevent burns to young children download our Keeping Young Children Safe: Burns Prvention and First Aid brochure.

Young child causes.PNG


The most common cause of burn injury for adolescents is through fire use and misuse. Older children and young adults have a greater access to dangerous substances including accelerants which aid the spread of fire.
Many burns occur when experimenting with materials and accelerants or ‘testing the
boundaries’ with high risk activities.

To learn more about how to prevent burns to adolescents download our Burns Safety and Adolescents brochure.

Adolescent causes.PNG

Burns and Scalds

What's the difference between a burn and a scald?

  • Burns: Contact with a hot object or surface such as heaters and hot appliances, contact with open flames, contact with the car exhaust, treadmill (friction burn)
  • Scalds: is contact with a hot liquid such as hot drinks, water from kettle, saucepan spillages, microwaved/heated food, hot water bottles, hot bath water

Burns Prevention

  • Install safety guards around fires and heaters.
  • Closely supervise children around BBQ’s.
  • Install and regularly check smoke alarms
  • Have a home fire escape plan and talk to your children about what to do in a fire
  • Have fire extinguishers in the home that are easily accessible
  • Don’t let children of any age play with lighters, matches or candles
  • Always store matches and lighters in locked cupboard
  • Keep heaters away from curtains, furniture, clothing, bedding and flammable materials
  • Supervise children around camp fires.
  • Always put camp fires out with water not dirt  
  • Check the temperature of play equipment on hot days before letting children on it

Scalds Prevention

  • Keep hot drinks out of reach (centre of the table or up higher)
  • Avoid nursing your baby or child when having a hot drink.
  • Control the temperature of your bathroom hot tap water to a maximum of 50ºC.
  • Always test the water temperature before bathing a child.
  • The maximum bathing temperature recommended for young children is 38 ºC.
  • Give toddlers their own special mug so they don’t drink from yours
  • Use tap covers to stop your children from turning the hot water tap on. Tap protectors can be purchased from our online shop, click here. 
  • Always stay with your child when they are in the bath - it's an adult responsibility to keep children safe.

First Aid - what to do if something happens

Burns First Aid.PNG

It is important to cool a burn immediately to stop the burn from becoming more severe. If the burn is bigger than a 20c piece then seek medical attention 

Do not use ice or icy water, creams, butter, oil, toothpaste or any other ointment to try and cool down the burn. 

Bathroom Safety

  • Control the temperature to your bathroom hot water tap to a maximum of 50ºC. Your licensed plumber can tell you how best to achieve this or contact Kidsafe SA for further information - (08) 8161 6318.
  • Always test the bath water temperature before placing your child into the bath. Use the inside of your wrist. It should be comfortable warm, not hot. The recommended temperature for bath water is 38ºC.
  • Child resistant taps/tap covers can help reduce the risk of your child turning on the hot water, but they won’t stop your child falling into a bath of hot water. To purchase tap protectors from our online shop, click here.
  • Always put cold water in the bath first, and then add hot water into the mix. Turn off the cold water last so the spout won’t be hot. If you are interested in purchasing a spout cover, please click here
  • Always stay with your child when they are in the bath. Never leave them alone in the bath, not even for a minute. Take them with you if you have to leave the room. Never leave them in the care of an older child.
  • Turn taps off tightly, and keep the bath empty of water when not in use.

The tempertaure of water and the time it takes to cause a serious scald injury

Burn temperature.png

Burns and Scalds

Our Major Partners