The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital trauma unit treated 1 117 children for burn injuries last year.
Eight hundred of these were from hot water and scalding liquids such as tea.
This August, Child Safety Month, child-safety advocacy organisation ChildSafe is encouraging parents to protect their children from burns.
“Burns are not only related to fire. Scalding from boiling or very hot liquids is also classified as a burn, and these occur more frequently than fire-related burns,” says Yolande Baker, ChildSafe executive director.
“If a child does survive the incident, more serious injuries can require a lifetime of rehabilitation and medical attention. Children can get burned at any time of the year, but we see a dramatic increase in the number of children treated for burns in the colder months, with stoves, heaters and open fires used to heat homes.”
Children under the age of 5 are most susceptible, with their innate curiosity about the world, and their growing independence.
“That’s why it’s important to teach them from a very early age how they can avoid getting burned,” says Ms Baker.
“Every injury caused by burns is a tragedy. But these injuries can be averted with extra vigilance and monitoring from parents
and care-givers. As much as
children can be burned in many ways, there are also many ways to prevent children from getting burned.
There are ways to make homes more safe and ways to remind children every day of the dangers of being near to flames or boiling liquids. But it’s something that needs to be remembered every day.”
Be vigilant with children around heaters, stoves, candles and other open flames such as candles, paraffin lamps, portable stoves, braais and wood or coal fires.
Turn pot handles towards the back of the stove.
Place hot liquids and food at the centre of the table.
Always test the water temperature with your elbow before placing a child in the bath.
Place kettles and cords at the back of the counter or table.
Teach children from as young as possible about the difference between the hot and cold taps.
Avoid overloading power points, and don’t run electrical wires under carpets.
Cover unused power outlets with safety plugs.
Never hold a child while cooking on the stove.
Extinguish wood and coal fires with water immediately after you’ve finished using them. Use sand or a fire extinguisher for paraffin, oil or petrol fires.
What to do if a child is burned:
Remove the child from the source of danger.
Cool a burn under cold running water for at least 20 minutes.
Protect the injury with a clean cloth or plastic wrap.
Seek advice immediately from a medical professional or emergency services.