Burns and scalding are among the most common accidents involving children in the home. Just a spilt cup of hot tea or coffee can scald a skin, causing up to 30 percent burns in babies and toddlers. Especially in winter when warming drinks, hot baths or burning candles are everywhere, the risk of injury increases.
According to the KFV (Austrian Road Safety Board), every day eleven children suffer burns or scalding so severe that they have to be treated in hospital. Under the motto "Full attention - Zero accidents" as part of the "VISION ZERO 2020" initiative, KFV experts educate the public about the causes of accidents and effective safety measures to prevent child accidents.
Vienna, 22. December 2014
Around 4,100 children under the age of 15 suffer burns or scalding in the home each year, of which 500 incidents occur in December and January alone. While smaller children are involved in such accidents primarily while exploring their home environment - for example by touching containers with hot fluids or touching hot objects - older children often injure themselves while cooking with their parents or when handling open flames. The consequences are often severe as children's skin is significantly more sensitive than that of adults. When a child's skin comes into contact with water at 50 degrees Celsius, it is damaged so greatly that blisters can appear. When a hot liquid at 65 degrees Celsius touches a child's skin for just half a second, it can even cause third-degree burns.
Simple rules, great effectiveness
"Most child accidents occur due to inattentiveness and because dangers are underestimated. Here, even simple safety measures can be very effective. For example, parents should not carry or drink hot liquids when they are also carrying their child. Table cloths, too, represent potential sources of danger as small children like to tug at them, which can result in scalding through hot liquids. When warming up baby bottles in the microwave, particular caution is warranted - always shake bottles well and test the temperature on the back of your hand," Dr. Othmar Thann, Director of the KFV, recommends. Especially in the kitchen, where 60 percent of burns and scalding accidents among children happen in the home, many accidents can be avoided through the use of modern kitchen appliances. For example, there are already ovent with a cool outside surface and chid safety locks, in addition to operational restrictors and locking functions for hobs, stoves, dishwashers and washing machines. During cooking, a stove safety guard prevents children from reaching for the hobs or pots.
Life-threatening danger for toddlers due to 15-percent skin burns
„Injuries due to burns or scalding require complicated, painful and lengthy treatment. Often, this can result in lastings scars," explains burns injury expert Univ.-Prof. Dr. Lars-Peter Kamolz, Head of the Clinical Department for Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery LKH-Univ. Klinikum Graz Hospital. Burns and scalding injuries are particularly severe and often life-threatening for children. "Even the content of half a cup of tea is enough to cause burns or scalding of around 30 percent of the body surface area in small children. It is important to understand that even a 15-percent skin burn can be life-threatening for small children," says Kamolz.
First aid in case of emergency
Burns and scalding are so dangerous for children because a lot of fluid is lost via the damaged skin and small children are therefore quickly in danger of going into shock. In case of small burn or scalding, the affected area can be held unter running water. For bigger injuries - particularly in children - the following applies: Don't lose any time! Call an ambulance right away or go to the hospital, says the burns injury expert. Generally speaking, every burn or scalding that is larger than a child's palm of the hand should be treated by a doctor. "Many accidents could be prevented through simple safety measures! Safety measures such as stove safety guards in the kitchen and temperature regulators in the bathroom are particularly effective," concludes Kamolz.
Initiative against child accidents
VISION ZERO 2020: Child accidents are preventable!
No child killed or severely injured in Austria! This is the ambitious objective of the KFV initiative Vision Zero 2020. In accordance with the motto "Full attention - Zero accidents!" Austria will be declared a child-safe area. Targeted information and exciting campaigns are to increase awareness for protecting out little ones and child accidents are to be prevented through practical prevention measures.
KFV safety tips