Burns and Scalds Advice from the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT)

More than 300 children are rushed to hospital each week with hot drink scalds.  Most of them are very young children aged just one or two, and  the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) calls on parents to take one simple step to prevent a lifetime of suffering.

CAPT wants parents to be aware that a hot drink left standing for as long as ten minutes can still scald a baby or toddler in less than two seconds – the same amount of time it takes to put it safely out of reach

Babies and very young children are the most vulnerable, as CAPT Chief Executive Katrina Phillips points out: “Hot drink accidents peak at the age of one or two, with babies and young toddlers pulling a mug of tea or coffee onto themselves. It’s because they’re mobile and so inquisitive, but with no understanding of danger.  It takes a split second for their lives and their parents‘ lives to be turned upside down, sometimes permanently.

“Children can suffer badly from the scarring, but the emotional scarring can be just as bad. Even simple things like swimming or sports events can become something to be dreaded.  Serious scalds can create a lifetime of guilt for parents who feel responsible for the accident.  The solution is simple.  Think about the places in your home which are safely out of your young child’s reach and make sure you always put your hot drink down in one of these places.”

Dr Keith Judkins, Chairman of Organisers, International Society for Burns Injuries Annual Congress  2012 said:  “Reducing the global burden of burn accidents, including scalds to children, is an important objective for those who care for the victims. The World Health Organisation, which shares that objective, is contributing to the Edinburgh Congress on the topic of prevention. But this is not just a matter for big organisations; it’s the business of everyone to be aware.  Prevent injury by taking care with kettles, hot drinks and hot water for bathing; if it happens, give immediate first aid with cold running water for at least ten minutes. We can all help reduce the scourge of scalds and burns.”

CAPT has put together advice for parents on preventing common childhood burns and scalds:

Top tips for preventing burns

A baby’s skin is 15 times significantly thinner than an adult’s.  Make sure you put your baby down before picking up your hot drink. Then you don’t have to worry about them wriggling or grabbing it.
A hot drink left standing for as long as ten minutes can scald a baby or toddler in less than two seconds. Put your hot drink down well out of reach from little hands.  Think of safe places in your home for hot drinks where you know your child can’t reach.
Don’t pass hot drinks over a baby or young child’s head in case it spills on them.
Medical professionals count bath water scalds as one of the worst injuries a child can suffer.  Put the cold water in the bath first and top up with hot.  If you put the hot in first, there’s a danger a toddler could climb or fall in when your back is turned and be badly scalded.
Hair straighteners can get as hot as your iron and stay very hot for up to eight minutes after they are switched off.  Switch them off after use and put them out of children’s reach and sight.  Don’t leave them to cool over a door handle.
Keep the kettle at the back of the worktop and try to use the back rings of the cooker to avoid little hands grabbing them.

Parents can purchase CAPT’s Parents Packs, offering advice direct from the experts on preventing all types of accidents, including burns and scalds.  They can be ordered online by going to www.capt.org.uk/shop, emailing safe@capt.org.uk or calling 020 7608 7367.