Burns specialists at Queen Victoria Hospital are warning parents and adults of the dangers of preventable injuries at home following a year-on-year increase in referrals to its paediatric burns unit.
Almost half of the children admitted to the hospital with burns (465 children) in 2017/18 from across Sussex, Surrey and Kent were treated for scalds, the majority of which happened in the child’s own home. Tea and coffee scalds were the main cause.
For this year’s national burn awareness day (17 October), the hospital’s experts want to remind people of the importance of prevention and also effective first aid if you’re first at the scene.
Scalds continue to be the leading cause of paediatric burns nationally, backed up by figures from The Children’s Burns Trust and the British Burn Association, which show that in 2017 more than 3,500 children required admission to an NHS burns service like Queen Victoria Hospital.
The hospital’s team also see more than 50 children each year who have a burn caused by hair straighteners and more than 40 children with injuries caused by hot radiators or radiator pipes, often toddlers pulling themselves up as they learn to walk. These figures remain consistent year on year.
Perhaps more worrying is the number of very young children who are sustaining injuries. In the last year 46% of the children seen by the Queen Victoria Hospital’s burns team were aged two and under.
Nora Nugent, consultant plastic surgeon and burns lead at Queen Victoria Hospital, said: “Each year we treat hundreds of children with burns injuries which are avoidable, many of which will leave life-changing scarring. It’s often easy to forget how hot the contents of a cup can be or that hair straighteners can reach 220 degrees, but they can cause permanent injuries.
“Prevention and good first aid are key in reducing the number of burns and scalds that occur each year. Acting quickly, whether it’s a child or adult who has been burnt, can reduce immediate pain and long-term scarring. If the unthinkable does happen, remember the mantra ‘cool, call and cover’. This immediate first aid can help make all the difference.”