Electrical and Thermal Burns

  • Your child can get an electrical burn if he or she makes contact with electricity, either alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC).

    Boston Children's Hospital's Injury Prevention Program

    The Injury Prevention Program at Children's is committed to decreasing the incidence of injuries, including electrical and thermal burns, through community-based education efforts, distributing safety materials and conducting research into what works best.


    If your child has suffered an electrical or thermal burn, call 9-1-1 immediately.
    Boston Children's Hospital
    300 Longwood Avenue
    Boston MA 02115
     fax: 617-730-0033

    To learn preventative measures to avoid electrical and thermal burns contact our Injury Prevention Program.
    Boston Children's Hospital
    300 Longwood Avenue
    BK 120
    Boston MA 02115
    Boston Children's Hospital
    300 Longwood Ave
    BK 120
    Boston MA 02115

  • What to do if your child has suffered a electrical burn

    • Unplug the appliance or device that has caused the injury or turn off the electrical current.
    • If your child is in contact with the electrical current do not touch him or her until you turn off the source or the circuit breaker.
    • Determine that your child is still breathing. If your child is not breathing, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and send someone to call 911.
    • Cover the burned area with a sterile gauze bandage or clean bed sheet.
    • Maintain your child's normal body temperature, and take him or her to an emergency center.
    • Do not give your child anything to eat or drink.
    • Place your child on his or her back, unless a neck or back injury is suspected.
    • If the child has vomited or has a serious injury to the face or mouth area, you may lay the child on his or her side.
    • Keep your child warm with blankets or extra clothing, but do not use a heat source to warm them.
    • Elevate your child's feet and legs, using a prop or pillow.

    Be aware that a child may experience "shock" after an electrical burn. If your child is showing signs of shock, call 911 immediately.

    What are the symptoms of shock?

    The following are the most common symptoms of shock. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms of shock may include:

    • cold sweat
    • weakness
    • irregular breathing
    • chills
    • pale or blue-colored lips
    • pale or blue-colored fingernails
    • a fast, but weak pulse
    • nausea

    Heat or thermal burns

    A heat-induced or thermal burn can occur when your child's skin comes in contact with any heat source, such as a cooking pan, an iron, a fire, a hot surface or a hot, scalding liquid.

  • Caring for a heat-induced or thermal burn:

    • Remove your child from the heat source.
    • Cool the affected area with cold water or cold compresses until pain is reduced or alleviated.
    • If a blister has formed, do not break it.
    • Protect the burn with a dry, sterile, gauze bandage or with a clean bed sheet or cloth.
    • If your child's clothing is stuck to the burned area, do not attempt to remove it. Instead, cut around the clothing leaving the burn intact.
    • Do not apply any ointments, oils, or sprays to the burned area.
    • If the burn is serious, seek medical attention or dial 911 for emergency medical attention.
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