Hot Drinks and Small Children – A Warning
“I guess you could say I’ve got a little bit complacent after four kids, but I’d got into the habit of having a cup of tea on the sofa and putting the cup behind me so my youngest daughter (11months) couldn’t reach it. Well yesterday she did. In the blink of an eye she’d reached over, grabbed the mug and tipped its contents – a piping hot cup of black tea – over her shoulder and chest.
“She screamed with fright and I couldn’t be sure whether it was just the shock or the fact she’d actually suffered a burn. I quickly put her under the cold tap in the bath and called my husband to get him to find out what to do next.
“He phoned our local doctors who advised to keep her under cool water for twenty minutes, before taking her straight in to be assessed. Because my daughter was so upset I ended up hopping in the bath with her and breastfeeding to calm her down, which really helped.
“Luckily no blisters formed and apart from redness she looked okay. My nerves were completely shot. My neighbour arrived to help look after my other children while I drove down with my daughter to the medical centre.
“My daughter was incredibly lucky. The tea must have cooled down just enough to not cause any blisters, a couple of minutes earlier and we could have been in Starship. The nurses told me not to feel guilty, but it’s absolutely impossible not to when I should have known better. I had got so used to having hot drinks around the kids (seriously, with 4 kids it’s nearly impossible to find the time to have a cup of tea when there isn’t a child about) and thought that being extra careful was enough.
“I was so wrong, and just want to let other mums out there know how quickly something like this can happen. Please be extra vigilant with hot drinks – it can all go horribly wrong in an instant, and learn what to do if it ever happens to your child.”
Marie (mum of four, Waitakere)
Hot Water Burn Facts
Hot water burns like fire - Always keep hot drinks out of the reach of children.
Burns are a leading cause of injury for young children. Of the 1 to 2-year-olds admitted to hospital due to severe burns, over half are caused by spilt hot drinks (tea and coffee) and other liquids. The severity of a burn injury can be dramatically reduced through the immediate use of first aid.
What to do in the event of a burn:
• It is important to cool the burn under cold running water for AT LEAST 20 MINUTES as soon as possible.
• Clothing should be removed from the burned area unless it is stuck to the wound. If clothing sticks, people need to cut around the area where the clothing is stuck and leave that piece of fabric for hospital
• Seek medical advice immediately
Younger Skin - Quicker to Burn
Young skin burns more quickly and deeply than adult skin, at lower temperatures. A hot cup of tea spilled over a baby is equivalent to a bucketful of boiling water tipped over an adult.
Excessively hot tap water in baths, showers and sinks is shown to be the next most frequent reason for hot liquid burn (or scald) admissions. Almost 40% of New Zealand homes have tap water that is dangerously hot, and nearly 10% have water so hot that burns are almost inevitable.
Turn Your Water Temperature Down
A small adjustment to your hot water tap temperature makes a big difference to a child’s risk of burn injury. It has been estimated that exposure to water at 54 degrees Celsius would take 10 seconds to cause a full thickness burn, where exposure to water at 60 degrees Celsius takes between 1 and 3 seconds.
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