Kitchens are full of opportunities for burns and scalds. Our skin is made up of several layers and is the body’s protective barrier. When cooking at home, it’s a good idea to cover your skin with items such as hot pads, silicone oven mitts, and keep long sleeve shirts or aprons handy if you’re working with steam or oil.

Some common causes of burn injuries in kitchens include:

  • Hot water or hot oil
  • Hot steam
  • Slipping and falling while carrying something hot
  • Pulling a hot item out of the microwave without pads or oven mitts and exposure to steam escaping when lifting a container lid too soon
  • Touching a hot oven rack or burner with bare skin

First Aid for Burns:

Major burns

A major burn (third-degree) requires immediate care. Damaged nerves and blood vessels kill the skin. Call 911 if the burn has the following characteristics:

  • Deep burns
  • Dry, leathery skin
  • Charred skin or patches of white, brown, or black
  • Larger than 3 inches in diameter covering the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, or a major joint

While waiting for emergency help to arrive, protect the burned person by removing them from the heat source and turning off any electrical appliances. Be certain the victim is conscious and breathing. If not, begin CPR or rescue breathing. If you don’t have formal CPR training and are uncomfortable with rescue breathing, you can try “hands-only” CPR by doing chest compressions until trained help arrives.

Get help to:

  • Remove restrictive items like jewelry and belts as burns cause rapid swelling
  • Cover the burn using a cool, wet cloth
  • Don’t immerse burned areas in water because it causes serious loss of body heat (hypothermia)
  • Elevate the burned area above the heart level
  • Watch for signs of shock like fainting, pale complexion, and shallow breathing


Minor burns

A minor burn is on the skin’s surface layers, causing redness, swelling, and blisters, more like a bad sunburn. These burns can evolve into 2nd-degree burns, becoming deeper and larger without First Aid.

Use these treatment options:

  • Hold the burned area under cool, running water or apply a cool, wet compress until there is less pain
  • Remove any jewelry or belts for comfort due to swelling
  • Don’t break any blisters which protect against infection. Gently clean the area around broken blisters with water and apply an antibiotic cream 
  • When the burn has cooled, apply a moisturizing lotion with aloe vera and cover loosely with a sterile gauze pad 

Using a pain reliever, including ibuprofen or acetaminophen, should be sufficient for a minor burn.

Kitchens can be safe

Preventing burns and staying safe in the kitchen is easy when you’re properly protected. Get some help with heavy pots or use a cart to move heavy objects. Don’t use wet towels to remove items from the oven. They can slip or get hot enough to burn. Never underestimate the heat from hot plates, bowls, and escaping steam in the microwave.

It’s important to focus and pay close attention and use common sense in the kitchen when around heat, hot liquids, and electrical appliances. If you clean as you go, you can avoid unnecessary spills and falls. 

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Mayo Clinic, SFM,