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Wednesday, 14 March, 2001, 00:27 GMT
Campaign to cut household scalds
hot drink
Hot drinks pose a particular threat
Serious burns caused by hot liquids in the home are the target of a government safety campaign being launched.

Children are particularly at risk, say experts, with thousands of youngsters being taken to hospital each year with severe scalds.

This may mean months of pain, and permanent scarring in some cases.

The new leaflet and television campaign highlights a number of common situations around the house which place children at risk.

These are:

  • Running hot water before cold into children's baths, and leaving the child unsupervised nearby
  • Leaving kettles or their leads within reach of a child
  • Placing pans containing boiling water on the stove with their handles pointing outwards
  • Leaving hot drinks within reach of children

The under-fives are involved in 45% of all burns and scalds accidents - 3,500 a year a year or 10 each day.

And two children in this age group die each year as a result of injuries caused by very hot bath water.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is running the campaign in association with the Child Accident Prevention Trust and the British Burn Association.

'Care should be taken'

Television celebrity Philippa Forrester, herself the mother of a five-month-old baby, has helped make the television safety commercial.

Kim Howells
Kim Howells is launching the campaign
Consumer affairs minister Kim Howells MP said: "I don't think we can take anything for granted - the fact that there are so many children coming to casualty departments in our hospitals means that we don't get it right every time as parents.

"It is very important to remind people that they have got to take some basic precautions."

Mr Bill Dickson, a consultant in plastic surgery and director of the burns unit at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, said that parents simply do not understood how vulnerable skin is to hot liquid.

He said: "I don't think people realise that it doesn't take a very long time to get a burn from very hot water.

A leaflet offers practical advice
A leaflet offers practical advice
"People need to be aware of the dangers of things like running the hot water first or leaving a child unsupervised."

He offered some advice to parent whose child has suffered a serious scald.

The first action should be to run the affected area under cold water for at least 10 minutes.

Ice should not be used because it can cause further damage to the skin.

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See also:

27 Dec 99 | Health
Saving your skin
05 Jan 01 | Health
Child burns victims failed
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