Childhood Burn Injuries: Statistics and Causes of Negligent Burns

Young Child With Burns at the HospitalWhen you have children, your number one priority in life shifts to keeping them safe. You do everything in your power to offer your children protection, but you can’t always account for the negligence or carelessness of others. Children can get hurt due to the actions of others, and burn injuries can be devastating to both the child and his or her parents. The pain, trauma, and potential for permanent scarring or disfigurement can drastically reshape lives.

Child Burn Injury Statistics

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that burns are the fifth most frequent cause of injuries to children, and ranked number eleven in the top causes of fatal injuries to children between the ages of 1 to 9. Center for Disease Control (CDC) data shows that in the United States, children ages 0 to 9 suffered over 78,100 non-fatal burn injuries in 2014. The vast majority of those burns were unintentional, while a small fraction were related to violence.

Common Causes of Childhood Burns

Contact injuries are some of the most common childhood burns. Children are naturally curious about their environment and may reach for objects or appliances, not realizing the danger of heat.

They also lack muscle coordination and may fall or brush against a hot object, causing harm to themselves. Some of the most common household sources of heat burns include:

  • Overly hot tap water, baths, steam, hot soup, or hot beverages

  • Kitchen appliances, such as ovens or range tops

  • Fireplaces, outdoor fires, radiators, or space heaters

  • Curling irons or hair dryers

  • Electric blankets or heating pads

  • Clothes irons

Hot objects aren’t the only source of burns, though. Chemical burns are also a serious risk for children, and can cause some of the most painful and scarring injuries. Sources of chemical burns include:

  • Bleach

  • Toilet cleaning liquids or gels

  • Oven cleaner

  • Pool cleaning chemicals

  • Ammonia or other common “under the sink” cleaners

Electrical burns are another concern for children. Faulty cords, plugged-in appliances that fall into a pool or bath water, defective products, or a child inserting an object into an outlet can all cause serious injuries.

Children are also more susceptible to solar radiation than adults. A child without sunblock or clothing that protects against the sun’s rays can quickly receive severe burns.

Types of Burn Injuries

When someone has been burned, it’s a good to be able to quickly identify how severe the damage is so that appropriate medical treatment can be sought. Burns are typically classified by the degree of damage to the skin or underlying tissue:

  • First-degree burns are the least severe and involve only a superficial reddening of the skin surface. A mild sunburn is an example of a first-degree burn.

  • Second-degree burns have burned through the top layer of skin, causing severe pain, redness, and blistering. A severe sunburn or contact with scalding hot water are examples of second-degree burns.

  • Third-degree burns are very dangerous. They cause little to no pain, as they are deep enough to destroy the top and middle layers of skin, underlying tissue, and nerves. The area may be darkened or charred, waxy, or white. Third-degree burns are a serious medical emergency and need treatment immediately.

  • Fourth-degree burns are rare, but deadly serious. These kinds of burns penetrate muscle or bone tissue, and require emergency care fast. Treatment can involve extensive surgeries, skin grafts, and more. Prolonged contact with open flame or searing-hot surfaces can cause these types of burns.

Duty of Care and Liability for Child Injuries

When an adult agrees to care for a child, assume a “duty of care.” This duty requires that the adult takes legal responsibility for the care of your child. Hired babysitters, daycare employees, teachers, and even friends, neighbors, or family members who watch your child agree to accept this responsibility. Anyone with a duty of care can be held legally liable if he or she fails to take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of your child.

Product manufacturers also have a kind of “duty of care.” When a company produces a toy or other product intended for children, that company must ensure that the design and function of the product pose no unreasonable risks of injury to a child. It’s especially important that companies that fail in their duty to children are held accountable for their faulty products, to prevent further injuries from happening.

Legal Help for Your Child’s Burn Injury

If your child has been burned and you believe that someone was negligent or failed in his or her duty to care for your child, you may be able to pursue legal compensation for medical bills, rehabilitation costs, loss of function, and more.

The Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger would like to help you and your child on the path to recovery. For a free consultation about your case, please call us at 803-790-2800.