Hair straighteners and hot drinks are leading cause of child burns

One in twenty burns requiring hospital treatment are from hair straighteners, research has found

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The Independent Online

Hair straighteners are responsible for nearly one in 20 serious burns experienced by children that require hospital treatment, the results of a new study have suggested.

A study, published in the Archives of Diseases in Childhood, examined the burns and scalds of 1,215 children aged under 16 admitted to emergency departments, a burns assessment unit and three burns units across the UK.

A team of researchers, led by Professor Alison Kemp from Cardiff University, found that 57 of the children had burned themselves on hot hair straighteners, which are often left on the floor or within easy reach.

Two in five of burns in children under the age of five were caused by touching irons or hair straighteners.

The devices reach temperatures of 175C and remain hot for minutes after being switched off.

The authors noted there is a "potential to explore modification to product design to ensure toddler safety,” although they should always be kept out of the reach of children.

Researchers also found that almost three in five suffered from scalds, 32 per cent had contact burns and the rest were burns from other causes, including sunburns. Hot drinks were the most common cause of burns, with almost half of these (48 per cent) caused when young children pulled the drink on to themselves, causing burns to their faces, arms and upper torsos.

Children under the age of one were at the most risk and sustained 10 times as many burns and scalds as older children, they found.

Prevention of such accidents is "likely to rely upon heightened awareness and behaviour change by carers", the authors said.

"Public information messages, children centres, health visitor or family nurse practitioners should address safety education as a matter of routine," they added.

"Scalds to infants and toddlers who pull hot beverages over themselves or sustain burns from touching irons, hair straighteners or oven hobs are a high priority for targeted prevention."

Katrina Phillips from the Child Accident Prevention Trust said: “Parents don’t know that hair straighteners can get as hot as their iron. Toddlers are into everything but don’t know that heat hurts. Add in the chaos of getting everyone ready and out of the house, and it’s no surprise these horrible burns are on the increase. We urge parents to keep hair straighteners out of reach of small hands and feet, and store them away safely – in a heat proof pouch if you can.”

Additional reporting by Press Association