Hot drinks and foods are leading cause of child burns in winter

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 Lady Cilento 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 – that’s 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.

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 Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.

Professor Roy Kimble, Director of Burns and Trauma at the Lady Cilento 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.”

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.

“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 Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital treated more than 1,300 children for burns injuries in 2017 – an increase of almost 30 per cent on the previous year. Of this number, one third of these children required surgery for their injuries.

ENDS


Media contact:
  3068 5111 / 3068 2158 / 3068 5608

 

   Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital

   Top 10 causes of burns: Winter 2017

   Rank    Cause of burn    Quantity
   1    Hot beverages    34
   2    Water from saucepan/kettle    24
   3    Heater (wood, electric, gas)    17
   4    Campfire / hot coals or ashes    13
   5    Food    10
   6    Food (noodles)    9
   7    Stove / oven door    9
   8    Hot metal (other)    8
   9    Hot water (tap, bath, sink, shower)    7
   10    Hotplate on stove    6

Source: Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital / Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research