Like most five year old children, my daughter has a short list of her favorite foods with macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets at the top. Although we don’t prepare her favorites for dinner daily, we always have a few Kraft microwaveable macaroni and cheese cups in our pantry for busy days. My daughter has never been allowed to reach into the microwave when she hears the timer beep, but recently her excitement for macaroni and cheese paired with her independence taught us a very painful safety lesson. It took less than a second for her to open the beeping microwave and try to remove the hot macaroni and cheese cup. Fortunately the scalding water spill was isolated to only her right hand. It could have been so much worse. Tears, an emergency room visit, and burn unit appointments over several weeks taught us the importance of teaching your child the dangers of removing food from the microwave.
My husband was traveling for work when my daughter and I had just came home from a walk to our local park when she asked for a macaroni and cheese cup. The Kraft cups have instructions to add water and microwave for three minutes and 30 seconds. The microwave timer beeped and before I could turn around, my daughter had opened the microwave then let out the worst scream I have ever heard from her. The plastic container, hot water from the cup, and cooked pasta was on the floor. Miraculously as she tried to be helpful and remove the macaroni and cheese cup from the microwave and the cup tipped, the scalding hot water only touched her hand. I ran it under cold water immediately but it didn’t seem to help.
Within 15 minutes her hand started blistering. As the blistering worsened I made the decision to take my daughter to the emergency room. We waited just a few minutes before going to a room with a nurse. The mostly second degree burn required a visit to the burn unit at a different hospital. The emergency room staff cleaned and bandaged the burn before sending us home to follow up at the burn unit the next day. They gave my daughter pain medication, a popsicle, and the idea that the burn unit appointment the following day wouldn’t hurt.
My husband was out of town for the entire week so my mom drove from out of town to go to the burn unit appointment with me. The first few minutes during the appointment, the nurse had placed a warm washcloth over my daughter’s hand. With out any warning, mid conversation, she forcefully pulled the cloth off my daughter’s hand completely removing the blister and soft skin from the burn. The pain was excruciating and miserable to watch as a parent. During the appointment we learned how to clean her hand and remove the dead skin daily. For the next week we were supposed to keep her hand dry and clean it daily. Bandages were to be changed multiple times each day and we needed to make sure she didn’t bump her hand during the initial healing process.
Although my daughter did not go to school during the first week, we did stop by for photo day. We needed to be extremely careful each time we left the house because any bump to her hand could cause a delay in the healing process. She was exhausted but happily posed for her photo wearing a bandage over the burn.
My daughter went to her burn unit follow up appointment with her dad later that week. The burn was healing quickly and looked so much better. We were given instructions to clean and wrap her hand twice daily. We still could not get her hand wet and were told to be very careful not to bump the new skin.
The next day we were off to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Disneyland. Initially we thought we might have to cancel our family visit but after the good report at the burn unit we decided to go to the celebration as planned. It was a great way for my daughter to get her mind off the burn and she had a wonderful few days at Disneyland. She didn’t complain about her hand once. She willingly allowed us to clean her hand and change the bandage multiple times daily. She told everyone, including Mickey and Minnie, what had happened and enjoyed the attention from the characters and new friends.
At just one month later, her hand looks incredible. Our final burn unit follow up appointment went well and we were given the okay for my daughter to get her hand wet and stop wearing the bandage. We are to apply sunscreen and moisturizing lotion multiple times throughout the day to help with continued healing and eventually completely fade the scar.
The hot water spill from the microwave caused a significant burn requiring medical attention. I’m amazed by how well the burn healed so quickly.
Teaching your child not to remove food from the microwave, regardless of their level of independence, is absolutely critical.
Microwave safety tips for parents
According to the National Fire Protection Association:
- PURCHASE a microwave oven that has the label of an independent testing laboratory. Make sure to complete and return the product registration card. This way the manufacturer can reach you if there is a recall on the product.
- PLUG the microwave oven directly into the wall outlet — never use an extension cord.
- MAKE sure the microwave oven is at a safe height, within easy reach of all users.
- OPEN food slowly, away from the face. Hot steam or the food itself can cause burns.
- FOOD heats unevenly in microwave ovens. Stir and test before eating or giving to children.
- NEVER heat a baby bottle in the microwave. Since a microwave oven heats unevenly, it can create hot pockets, leading to burns. Warm a bottle in a bowl of warm — not hot or boiling.
Water in the microwave can get well above boiling temperature (212°F) with out ever boiling on the surface. The water is usually not heated evenly and can vaporize when removed from the microwave. The scalding water can potentially explode from the container or spray hot water with movement. Microwave safety tips for parents are extremely important to avoid burns.
It certainly was not a pleasant experience, but moving forward my daughter knows to never remove food from the microwave by herself again. Do you have any microwave safety tips for parents to share?