Hair straighteners blamed for big rise in children suffering burns
The number of children hospitalised for burns has risen by more than 50 per cent in the past decade, even though the total number of accidents involving the age group has decreased.
The Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) said that the increase could be attributed partly to accidents with hair straighteners, with anecdotal evidence that hospitals are seeing increased numbers of children who have injured themselves with the hot irons.
Straighteners can reach temperatures of up to 220C (428F) and remain hot for up to eight minutes after they have been switched off.
According to NHS statistics, 233 children under 5 needed hospital treatment for burns in 1997-98. That increased to 358 in 2006-07.
Moya Sutton, executive nurse at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, said: “We are seeing more and more children with burns due to hair straightener injuries, particularly on hands and feet. On average, at least 40 children a year are treated at Alder Hey for these type of burns and several have had to have skin grafts to repair these injuries. This is becoming a major area of concern for us, as parents just aren’t aware of these items as posing a threat.”
Katrina Roberts, chief executive of CAPT, said that Child Safety Week, which begins today, aimed to show parents how to prevent accidents. “It’s often the small changes that make all the difference,” she said. “The trick is to make them a habit, like putting your straighteners in the same place out of young children’s reach — that way you’ll feel less as if you constantly need eyes in the back of your head.”
One mother from Merseyside, Nicki, 32, who did not want her last name published, said that her son Jamie, 8 months, needed skin grafts after grabbing her hair straighteners and dropping them on to his legs. She said: “Just don’t use them at all near children and always put them high up on the highest unit to cool down. They are still hot for a long time.” Nicki faced a hospital investigation into her son’s injuries, although she was not held responsible. “I thought it was a safe distance,” she said. “I hadn’t realised they were still that hot. I wouldn’t have left them anywhere near him if I’d realised.” She now straightens her hair only when the children are not in the same room.
More information is available at http://www.childsafetyweek.org.uk or from Sure Start centres.