4 June 2018

Hot drinks and foods remain the number one cause of serious burns to young children, prompting a warning for Queenslanders to be extra careful with their warming winter beverages this year.

Last winter, 53 children were treated at the Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane for scalds caused by hot beverages and foods including soups, stews and noodles.

These burns ranged from first-degree superficial burns to third-degree full-thickness burns, with hands being the body part most commonly injured.

Families are also urged to always supervise children around domestic heaters. In winter 2017, 17 children were treated for burns injuries caused by contact with a gas, wood or electric heater – almost twice as many as the previous winter.

In total, the hospital saw a total of 216 children with burns injuries between 1 June and 31 August  2017.  Hot-water taps, stoves, coals and ashes, and boiling water from saucepans and kettles are also included in the top 10 causes of burns in children in the winter months.

The age group most at risk of burns are children aged between one and three years old, who account for more than 50 per cent of all winter burns patients at the Queensland Children’s Hospital.

Professor Roy Kimble, Director of Burns and Trauma at the Queensland Children’s Hospital urged parents to take extra care when serving or walking around with hot drinks when young children are around ­– and possibly under feet.

“Children aged one to three are most at risk of sustaining these types of burns injuries due to their increased mobility,” Professor Kimble said.

“Serious burns can occur very quickly and are extremely painful, often leading to lengthy treatment and permanent scarring.”

Professor Kimble recommended parents and carers of young children always use cups with secure lids for hot drinks and soups.

“It’s also important to place cups and dishes away from the edges of tables and benches, and turn saucepan handles inward away from the edge of the stove so curious little hands cannot reach them.”

“Young children are not aware of the dangers associated with heaters, so parents must remain vigilant and always supervise them when heaters are in use,” Professor Kimble said.

“In many cases the burns we see are a result of a child touching the grate or metal casing surrounding the heater, rather than the heating element itself.”

Read the media release