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When we think of things in our homes that might cause burns, there are some obvious culprits - curling irons, stoves, radiators- rarely do we think of tap water.

As surprising as it sounds, it’s true. Each year thousands of emergency room visits are attributed to scalds – injuries caused by hot liquid or steam.  Adults often experience mild scalds when washing dishes but quickly adjust the temperature without a second thought.  On the other hand, children’s skin is much more sensitive and can sustain a burn in a matter of seconds.

Simple acts like setting your water heater’s thermostat no higher than 120 degrees and installing “anti-scald” devices on tub faucets and shower heads can help protect you and your family from scalds. Additionally, always test the water before placing a child into the tub. The water should feel warm, not hot. Before you put your child in the tub, test the temperature with your wrist, elbow or the back of your hand. If you're using a thermometer, remember that bath water should be no more than 100 degrees.

Of course, tap water isn’t the only liquid that can cause burn injuries. Other precautions you can take to keep your family safe from burns include:

  • Keep hot foods and liquids away from tables and counter edges so they cannot be pulled or knocked over.
  • Never hold a child in your arms while preparing hot food or drinking a hot beverage.
  • Teach children that hot things hurt.
  • Don’t wear loose-fitting sleeves when cooking.

Even with all these precautions, burns occur from time to time. If this happens, immediately run the burned area under cool water for 3 to 5 minutes. Then, cover it with a clean, dry cloth. If the burn is bigger than your fist or if you have questions, get medical help immediately.

In addition to these important burn prevention strategies, the Virginia Beach Fire Department encourages parents and their families to put safety first by performing home hazard inspections at least once a year.

For more information on burn and fire safety, visit the Virginia Beach Fire Department  and click on Life Safety Education or call 385-2877.