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A Guide to Baby First Aid

If your baby is burned or ingests a dangerous substance...

A baby's skin is far more sensitive to heat than adult skin. Burns are classified by severity as first degree (redness), second degree (blistering), and third degree (charring of the skin). Follow these steps if your child is burned.

1. Remove the baby from danger and cool the burned area by flushing it with cool water (unless it is an electrical burn, as described below). Remove the baby's clothing unless it's stuck to the skin.

2. Loosely cover the burn with a clean, dry gauze dressing to reduce pain and prevent infection. Never apply ice directly on the burn, and do not put any ointment on a significant burn, as it can seal in heat. Likewise, stay away from home remedies such as butter, grease, or powder; they don't work to heal the burn, and they can actually cause infection.

• For a serious burn (second-degree), call 911; severe burns can cause loss of fluid from the body and breathing difficulties. If the burn has affected a large portion of the baby's body, wrap him in a clean sheet and cover him with a blanket (to keep him warm) after stopping the burn and cooling it with water.

• For a chemical burn caused by contact with a household product such as paint remover, drain liquids, oven cleaners, or household bleach, call 911 and flush the area with cool running water until help arrives. If possible, remove clothes with any chemical on them.

For an electrical burn, such as when a child puts a metal object into an outlet or bites an electrical cord, call 911 but don't cool the burn with water; just cover it with a dry, sterile bandage. Electrical burns may appear deceptively minor yet can cause severe harm.

Keep the number of the poison control center (PCC) -- 800-222-1222 -- near the phone. If you suspect that your baby has ingested a toxic substance -- medicine, cleaning product, or pesticide -- call the center immediately (even if she has no visible symptoms). Report exactly what was ingested (read the ingredients from the label), how much is missing, and the time of the event. The PCC will tell you whether to give home care or call 911.
The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend syrup of ipecac or activated charcoal as routine at-home poisoning treatments. If your child vomits spontaneously, turn her on her side to prevent choking. Save some of the vomited material in case it is needed for analysis.