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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 00:57 GMT
Bid to cut child burns
This little boy pulled a hot cup of tea over himself
This little boy pulled a hot cup of tea over himself
The government is launching a campaign to protect danger from burns and scalds.

Every day 10 children receive serious burns from hot drinks or hot bath water, a total of 3,500 each year.

Two children die each year as a result of injuries caused by very hot bath-water. Many children under three suffer 20 to 50% body burns. Extensive plastic surgery is common.

On Tuesday, the government is launching a campaign to alert parents to the dangers of burns and scalds and how to prevent them.

Causes of severe burns and scalds in under-5s each year
Cups and mugs - 1094
Baths - 437
Kettles - 367
Tea and coffee pots - 151
Jugs of hot water - 133
Saucepans - 122
Irons - 121
Cookers - 112
Fires and heaters - 90
Radiators and hot pipes - 90
Hot food - 73
Cigarettes - 65
Bowl or bucket of water - 65
Chip pans and deep fat fryers - 59
Baby bottle - 54
Source: CAPT
Fifty thousand anti-scald bath plugs, which change colour as bath-water reaches a comfortable bathing temperature are being promoted as part of the campaign, and over 1m information leaflets will be available from high-street stores and GP surgeries.

The campaign is being run by the Department of Trade and Industry in conjunction with the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) and British Burn Association (BBA).

The leading cause of accidents is hot drinks. Most involve a child reaching up and pulling a mug or cup of hot drink over themselves.

Safety campaigners say parents are often careful about keeping children away from newly-made hot drinks, but fail to realise that a cup of tea can scald a child up to 15 minutes after it has been poured out.

If a hot drink is spilled over an adult, it may only cover a small part of an adult's body, but it can cover a very large proportion of a toddler and lead to a very serious burn with lasting damage.

Lifetime's pain

Bathtimes can also be dangerous. Over 430 children under five are severely burned in baths every year.

Most incidents involve an unsupervised child climbing or falling into a bath of very hot water

This child burnt his feet by standing in a hot bath
This child burnt his feet by standing in a hot bath
In total, 35,000 children under five were taken to hospital as a result of a burn or scald accident in the home in 1999.

Young children make up a tenth of the 350,000 burns and scalds accidents in the UK each year. Almost 8,000 of these are severe.

Consumer Minister Melanie Johnson said: "Any parent wants to protect their child from injury - especially injuries which can scar for life.

"It only takes a matter of seconds to get burnt but the injuries can last a lifetime.

"These accidents can cause severe physical pain, lead to numerous operations and endless emotional suffering.

"Parents and carers must be alert to the everyday dangers in the home."

Safety measures

Campaigners say parents can take measures which should prevent accidents.

They should: -

  • Never leave a child unattended near hot liquids or a bath - not even briefly
  • Check the temperature of bath-water with the "elbow test", a thermometer or anti-scald products. The water should be warm - not hot
  • Keep mugs and cups of hot drinks away from table and worktop edges
  • Do not leave kettle flexes hanging down
  • Keep handles of pots and pans turned away from the edges of cookers and work surfaces
  • Teach toddlers not to play in the kitchen or bathroom.

If there has been an accident, the affected area should be kept under cold water for at least 10 minutes.

Parents and carers must also ensure they do not remove anything sticking to the injury, and should cover it with a sterile, non fluffy material such as cling-film.

No creams, ointment, fat or ice should be applied and a child with any size of burn should see a doctor.

Charlotte Stark, information manager for CAPT, told BBC News Online: "The reason we are supporting this campaign is that they are almost entirely preventable if parents are given good, clear safety advice."

See also:

07 Jun 01 | Health
Home hazards injure thousands
14 Mar 01 | Health
Campaign to cut household scalds
05 Jan 01 | Health
Child burns victims failed
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