Cooking accidents often scald young children

By Tom Nordlie • Published: February 9th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Scalding injuries are the leading cause of burn-related hospitalizations among young children.

Hot tap water is a major culprit, but cooking poses a threat, too.

That’s according to a study in the journal Pediatrics, which uncovered two hidden dangers.

Researchers analyzed more than one-hundred burn cases.

All of them involved children less than five years old, who were accidentally scalded by liquids other than tap water.

The vast majority of these cases were related to hot foods or beverages.

That may not seem surprising, because cooking is a part of daily life.

But two trends emerged that surprised the scientists.

Almost nine percent of the cases involved children who took food or beverages from a microwave oven.

And sixteen percent of the cases came about when older children were preparing or carrying hot items, or supervising little ones.

The reasons for these accidents were easy to understand.

Microwave ovens generally don’t have safety features to prevent young children from removing things.

And older kids may not supervise and control younger siblings well enough to keep them safe.

The researchers recommended that appliance companies modify microwave ovens to make them harder to open.

They also said older children who provide care should be educated about scalding injuries.

But, as with most health threats, it’s ultimately adults who must take charge.

Small children can’t be expected to understand the dangers inherent to cooking.

So parents need to ensure mealtime stays safe, and remains one of the happy memories of childhood.