Scald Prevention

Hot liquids pose a danger, just as a fire does. If not you aren’t careful, hot liquids can cause major injuries.

Here are some tips to help you avoid scald injuries:

  • Set the water heater at or below 120 degrees.
  • Check the water temperature before putting a child or dependent adult in the shower or bathtub.
  • Turn pot handles away from the stove’s edge to prevent objects from being pulled down or knocked over.
  • Do not hold a hot beverage while holding a child or caring for a dependent adult.
  • Don’t allow children to use a microwave by themselves until they are tall enough to reach it safely and able to understand that hot liquids can cause burns.
  • When removing lids from hot foods, lift the lid or cover away from your face or arm to prevent burns from accumulated steam.
  • Anti-scald devices can be easily installed on most existing showers, bathtubs, sinks and taps.
  • Do not remove the car radiator cap until the engine has cooled.
  • Use a large, sturdy tray with a solid lip if it is necessary to move hot liquids while using a wheelchair.
  • Always use oven mitts or potholders when moving pots of hot liquid.

Here are some first-aid instructions for scald burns:

  • Remove the heat source to prevent further injury.
  • Remove any clothing or jewelry near the burned area.
  • If a small area, like a finger or hand, is burned (less than 5% total body surface area), cool the area for about five minutes with cool water. Do not use ice or cold water.
  • Cover with a clean dry bandage/dressing.
  • Elevate affected area to help decrease swelling.
  • Keep yourself or the person warm – there is a risk of hypothermia especially with larger burns.
  • Seek medical attention if injury needs more care.

For more information on our UofL Health – UofL Hospital – Burn Center, visit

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Haily Smith BSN, RN, CCRN

Haily Smith, BSN, RN, CCRN, is the burn educator and resource nurse at UofL Health – UofL Hospital. She joined UofL Hospital in February 2011. As the burn educator and resource nurse, she provides burn education within the hospital and to outside hospitals and Emergency Medical Services throughout the commonwealth of Kentucky. She is also a resource to the Emergency Department, Burn Center and Outpatient Burn Clinic. Previous to this role, she was a bedside nurse in the Burn Unit and also served as a charge nurse. Haily has a bachelor’s in nursing from University of Louisville.

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