The Risk of Burns and Scalds: Protecting Children During Winter
Winter is here, and the cold weather has definitely set in! It’s the season when a lot of us look towards hot drinks, hot food, a nice warm bath, or cosying up by an open fire to help keep warm and dry. While all of these bring a sense of comfort, they can also pose a risk of burns and scalds, particularly to those who are most vulnerable - children.
June is National Burns Awareness Month, an initiative run by Kidsafe Australia in partnership with the Australian and New Zealand Burns Association (ANZBA) to drive greater awareness among the community of the prevention and the correct first aid treatment for burns.
The home is the most common location for childhood burn injuries, with the majority occurring in the kitchen - particularly when a child is near someone cooking.
Common burn and scald hazards for children include hot drinks and food, hot water, household heaters and fires, treadmills, vehicle exhausts and appliances such as irons and hair straighteners.
Little Gracie and her Mum Jess know just how quickly burn and scald injuries can happen and the lifelong impact they can have.
In September last year, 2-year-old Gracie suffered significant burns to 40% of her body. Her Dad was cleaning the stove when suddenly a spark set alight his arms and in the chaos, little Gracie accidentally became ignited.
Jess recalls: “I had no idea how bad it was until I reached the ambulance. I felt so scared. I thought I was going to lose her”.
“Her burns were so deep and she didn’t look like my little girl anymore.”
Thankfully, Gracie survived. She spent 5 weeks in an induced coma and incredibly 3 months later, on 29th December, Gracie came home – the best Christmas gift her family could have wished for.
Today, she still undergoes regular operations to repair her skin and daily treatment. She has to wear full-leg garments, a glove, and a face mask and can’t go out in the sunshine or in sandpits.
How to prevent burns and scalds
There are some practical things we can all do to reduce the risk of burns and scalds, including keeping hot food, drinks and appliances out of children’s reach and restricting their access to the kitchen when meals are being prepared.
Kidsafe has developed a free ‘Home Burns Safety Checklist’ which can help you to identify and reduce the risk posed by a range of common household burn and scald hazards.
If a burn does occur, it is important to remember to:
● Remove - remove yourself from danger. Remove any clothing and jewellery from the burn area unless well stuck to the skin
● Cool - place the burn under cool running water for 20 minutes. Never use items like ice, oil or butter on a burn as these can make it worse
● Cover the burn with a clean dressing
● Seek medical attention if the burn or scald is on the face, hands, feet, genitals or buttocks, is larger than a 20-cent coin or is blistered.
For more information about burns prevention and National Burns Awareness Month, please visit Kidsafe Australia.
To read more about little Gracie’s story, please click here.
Kidsafe Australia is an independent, non-profit organisation dedicated to the prevention of unintentional death and injury to children through education, advocacy and research. Melanie Courtney, Chief Executive Officer, Kidsafe Victoria is the Parents You've Got This Safety Expert. Melanie is dedicated to the prevention of unintentional death and injury to children in the home, on the road and at play. With two active young children herself, Mel strongly believes that all children have the right to grow up in a safe but appropriately challenging environment.
To learn more about keeping your child out of harm's way, secure your spot in our Baby First Aid and Saftey Basics Masterclass.