17 kids burned by hot liquids this winter

22 July 2019 

At least one child a day has presented to the Queensland Children’s Hospital with a serious burn since the start of winter, with hot liquids the number one cause.

These figures have prompted a warning for parents and carers to be extra careful when heating water for their winter beverages.

Since 1 June, 49 children were treated in the hospital’s emergency department for burns, with 11 of these caused by boiling water and six by hot drinks.

Other common burns causes include hot foods such as noodles and contact with hot metal from backyard fire pits and fire drums.

The burns ranged from superficial burns to full-thickness burns, with hands being the body part most commonly injured.

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

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 beverages when young children are around.

“Children aged one to three are most at risk of sustaining 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 said research had proven the severity of a burn, and the need for skin grafting, could be dramatically reduced by acting quickly and administering the correct first aid.

“The best first-aid treatment for a burn is to place the injured area under cool running water for 20 minutes and seek medical treatment immediately by phoning 000,” Professor Kimble said.

“After running cool water over the burn for 20 minutes, cover it with clear plastic wrap, if available, or a clean cloth and keep the patient warm.

“While it is ideal to apply first aid immediately, if running water is not available at the scene, it is still beneficial to apply cold running water up to three hours after the injury.

“Never use ice, oil, butter or ointments on a burn as this can further damage the skin,” he said.

Kidsafe Queensland recommends the following safety tips to prevent burns from hot liquids:

  • Keep hot drinks away from the edges of tables and benches.
  • Never hold a hot drink and a child at the same time.
  • Use rear elements if possible on stovetops and keep handles turned inwards. Stove-top guards and barriers will keep hot pots out of reach.
  • Use a child gate to prevent children from accessing kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Install tempering valves on your hot water system to keep hot water at 50°C.


Media contact:  07 3068 5111 / chqnews@health.qld.gov.au