Q: What should I do if my baby gets burned?
A: Even if your house is babyproofed from floor to ceiling, sometimes accidents happen -- and with curious babies or toddlers around, it's important to be prepared for a potential burn emergency.
Remember that only first-degree burns (ones that cause redness, but no blistering) should be treated at home. Here's how:
* Run cool water over the area for several minutes, which lowers the temperature of the skin. Avoid ice-cold water, which will hurt and can decrease blood flow to the area. * Apply an aloe vera gel to ease pain and cover the area with a damp gauze pad (these are things you should have in your first-aid kit). * Don't apply ice, butter, or other popular home remedies, which can actually prevent proper healing.
Call the pediatrician if your child's burn covers a large area, is on the face, hands, feet, or genitals, or if it starts to blister (a sign of a second-degree burn, which affects the outer and underlying layers of skin).
Call 911 if your child has suffered a serious electrical burn, has a blistering burn over a large area, loses consciousness, or has trouble breathing.
To avoid burns, keep children out of the kitchen while you're cooking. Remember to never perch hot food or drinks near the edge of a counter or table or on a tablecloth -- kids can yank on it. Keep your water heater set at or below 120 F. to prevent scalding during bathtime, and don't leave hot irons or hair appliances unattended or within reach of little hands. --Julie Evans
Originally published in American Baby magazine, July 2004. Updated 2009.