Caution is key to keeping kids safe from winter burns

26 June 2017

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, 73 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.

The age group most at risk of these burns are one year olds, who account for 28 per cent of all burns patients at the Queensland Children’s Hospital. Furthermore, 60 per cent of all burns occurr in children under the age of three.

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 where curious little hands cannot reach them.”

He also warned families to always supervise children around domestic heaters. In winter 2016, 10 children were treated at the Queensland Children’s Hospital for burns injuries caused by contact with a gas, wood or electric heater.
Hot water taps, stoves, coals and ashes, and boiling water from saucepans and kettles are also among the top 10 causes of burns in children in the winter months.

“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.”

Prof. Kimble said parents could dramatically reduce the severity of a burn 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,” he said.

“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.”

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.

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

The Queensland Children’s Hospital treated a total of 1018 children for burns injuries in 2016 – a increase of almost 10 per cent on the previous year. Of this number, 346 of them required surgery for their injuries.


Media contact: 3068 5608/ 3068 2158

Queensland Children’s Hospital

Top 10 causes of children’s burns in Winter 2016

Rank Type No.
1 Hot beverages 45
2 Water from saucepan/kettle 19
3 Food (Noodles) 14
4 Food (other) 13
5 Hotplate (stove) 13
6 Heater (wood, gas, electric) 10
7 Hot metal (other) 10
8 Coals/ashes 9
9 Water in bucket or other container 9
10 Hot water tap (bath, shower, or sink) 8
Source: Queensland Children’s Hospital / Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research