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Specialist nurses warn of rise in young children admitted after being scalded at home

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Burns specialist nurses at Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have seen an increase in the number of children being admitted with preventable scalds from accidents around the home.

For this year’s national burn awareness day on 18 October, the hospital trust’s specialists said they wanted to remind people of the importance of prevention and also effective first aid.

“We’d like to remind everyone not to carry or pass hot drinks over a child”

Julie Baker

Half of the children admitted to the trust’s paediatric burns unit in the last year – nearly 400 – were treated for scalds, most of which occurred at home. Tea and coffee scalds were the main cause.

However, more worrying, said the trust, was that 54% of the children seen for burns and scalds – just over 200 children – were aged 0-2 years.

This trend correlates with new findings from the Children’s Burns Trust and British Burn Association, said the trust, which provides reconstructive surgery, burns care and rehabilitation services across the South of England.

Their figures show that more than 600 children a month were admitted to an NHS Burns Service following a burn or scald injury – not including thousands more seen for more minor burns in accident and emergency.

Julie Baker, paediatric ward matron at Queen Victoria Hospital, said: “Sadly we treat many children with burns injuries which are avoidable, some of which will leave life-changing scarring.

“We’d like to remind everyone not to carry or pass hot drinks over a child, or place them where a child can reach them,” she said.

“However, if the unthinkable does happen, remember the mantra ‘cool, call and cover’. Acting quickly can help reduce immediate pain and long-term scarring,” she added.

The trust said it was supporting the British Burns Association’s ‘cool, call and cover’ first aid guidance:

  • Cool the burn with running cool tap water for 20 minutes and remove all clothing and any jewellery
  • Call for help – 999, 111 or your local GP for advice
  • Cover with cling film while transferring to a hospital/GP surgery. The hospital/GP should apply a sterile dressing. Cling film should not be left on a burn for more than a few hours and only while wounds are being assessed by health professionals.
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