Reducing burn exposures

Warming Baby Bottle on Stove

It may surprise you to learn that children suffer burn injuries at an alarming rate within child care centers. There are several hazards to watch out for and control to reduce the risk of a burn happening on your watch.

Bottles and beverages

Baby bottles of formula or breast milk DO NOT NEED TO BE WARMED despite years of people believing otherwise. If parents insist on having their child’s bottle warmed then a safe way to do so is to run warm tap water over the bottle for 5 to 10 minutes.

Some of the most severe burns to children at child care centers occur when:

  • Scalding water from crockpots or bottle warmers is spilled on children
  • Hot coffee, tea, or hot chocolate is spilled or splashed on children
  • Microwaved bottles leak, spilling scalding liquid onto babies

The best way to reduce the risk of scalding injuries is to remove all hot liquids from areas where children are present.  


Food also causes burns at child care centers when it is either served too hot or spilled on a child before it cools enough to be eaten. Sometimes the food that burns children is intended for staff members and not the children in their care.

To reduce the risk of burns to children caused by food, consider the following:

  • Prepare food in rooms separate from where children are located
  • Keep hot food out of reach of children until it is cool enough to serve
  • If staff must eat where children are present keep hot foods well out of reach


Several recent burns to children suffered at home-based child care centers occurred when children got too close to appliances. Space heaters, stoves, and fire places have all caused burns to children that could have been avoided.

Consider the following measures to protect children from contact burn injuries:

  • Install barriers a safe distance away from heaters and fireplaces, if they’re in use
  • Set your water heater temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less
  • Keep children out of common areas such as kitchens in your home-based center
  • Keep temperature settings low if heaters are in the same room as children


It seems simple that parents expect to welcome their children home from child care in the same condition as when they were dropped off. Putting forth the effort to control exposures to burn injuries will go a long way to satisfying your clients and reducing risk at your child care center.



Warming Baby Bottle on Stove
The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us at or your attorney if you have any questions. The article may not be linked to, copied, reproduced, republished, posted, or distributed in any way by non-policyholders of Markel®, without permission.