Babies and young children are at risk of different types of burns, including hot water, hot food, fire and electricity burns. The skin of babies and young children burns easily, and some burns may cause permanent scarring. There are many things you can do around the house to protect your baby from burns.

Teach your baby safety messages

As your baby grows, they will start to reach out and grab things. They may spill a hot drink on themselves, or reach the stove, or poke objects into power sockets.

Teach your child simple safety messages as soon as they can understand. Things like how to recognise hot and cold taps by colour, to turn on only the cold tap, and what to do in a fire.

Children have died in car and house fires that they started with lighters and matches. Child-resistant lighters are safer, but not child-proof. Children can quickly learn how they work.

Avoiding hot water burns

What to check

What's safe

The water temperature from your hot tap - you can discuss how to check this with Plunket or a plumber.

A safe temperature for household hot water from the tap is no more than 50°- 55°C. Ask a plumber how the hot water from the tap in your house can be lowered to a safe temperature.

The wetback in your fireplace.

Have a temperature-control valve installed on your hot water cylinder.

How you run water into the bath.  

Run cold water first, and hot water last.

How you test the temperature of the bath water.

Test the water with the inside of your wrist, (see below) before you put your child into the bath.

The water should be warm, not hot.

If your child gets burned, cool the area quickly under cold or cool water for 20 minutes. Sit with them under the shower if necessary. Wrap the burn loosely in clean cloth (for example, a pillow case).

Call your doctor for all burns, even small burns, and especially on the hand(s).

For severe burns call 111.

Avoiding hot drink and hot food burns

What to check

What's safe

Never eat, drink or carry anything hot while you are holding your baby. 

Put your baby down while you enjoy a hot drink.

Where you put down your hot drinks and food.

Keep anything hot away from the edge of the table or bench. 

Anything that your child can reach, such as a tablecloth, a saucepan handle, or a hot drink.

Where you keep anything your child can use to climb on, such as chairs and steps.

Use table mats, not a tablecloth. 

Secure the oven to the wall, and put a safety catch on the oven door.

Turn saucepan handles to the back of the stove, and use a back element if possible.

A stove guard helps prevent a child

reaching saucepans on the stove top. Don’t have chairs or steps near the bench or stove. 

Avoiding fires and electricity burns

What to check

What's safe

Heaters and fireplaces.

Put a guard in front of a heater or fireplace.

Secure the guard to the wall.

Electric power points and multi-plugs.

Put safety plugs into power points,
including each socket of a multi-plug.

Keep multi-plugs out of reach and don’t overload them.

Pyjamas and nightwear.

Dress your child in snug, close-fitting nightwear such as pyjamas, to

prevent them catching fire. 

Where you store matches, lighters and candles.

Keep matches, lighters and candles up high or locked away.

Jugs and irons.

Keep cords of electric jugs and irons out of reach. 

Smoke alarms.

Install smoke alarms.  Check batteries.

Escape plan.

Have an escape plan on how to leave the house in case of fire. Practise this plan with everyone in the house.


For help and advice call PlunketLine 0800 933 922, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If your child is sick please call Healthline, 0800 611 116, New Zealand's 24-hour telephone health advice service. All calls are answered by registered nurses.
In an emergency phone 111.
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