POPPING on the kettle but getting distracted by your children is a feeling many parents will know too well.
More often than not, it results in your brew getting left to go cold on the side, but in some cases a forgotten boiling beverage can have serious consequences.
It’s something busy dad-of-two Scott Gray, from Berkshire, found out when his four-year-old son Archie knocked over his fresh mug of tea and over himself.
Mr Gray told the BBC: “I pulled his trousers and his skin came off too. It was horrendous. It happened so fast. It was only on him for one or two seconds.”
I pulled his trousers and his skin came off too. It was horrendous
The quick-thinking dad grabbed the youngster and rushed him to the bath where he plunged Archie’s legs into cold running water.
He kept him there until an ambulance arrived to take him to the specialist burns unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury.
It was there that surgeons praised the dad for acting immediately as it had miraculously saved his son from suffering any long-term damage.
Archie, who had been playing with two-year-old brother Freddie at the time, suffered burns to five per cent of his body.
Mr Gray said: “I’ve done first aid training, but nothing specifically related to burns, I just used my head and thought that if cold water works for a burnt finger or hand, then it must work for legs also – at the time I didn’t know for sure I was taking the right action.”
I just used my head and thought that if cold water works for a burnt finger or hand, then it must work for legs
Dr Mike Taylor, who treated Archie, said: “This is exactly the type of injury where good first aid with cooling can make a real difference to the outcome.
“Archie had scalded five per cent of his body surface area and typically children with this size of burn may well require a skin grafting operation to the worst-affected areas and some form of lifelong scarring is common. I prepared Archie’s parents for this.”
Thankfully Archie’s legs healed well and he was discharged without any scars.
His dad is now warning over parents about the dangers of leaving hot tea unattended near children.
It comes as new figures show that more than 35,000 NHS admissions in the last five years have been for children with severe burns.
The data analysed by the Royal College of Surgeons shows that almost half of these burns are due to hot food or drink, with hundreds of youngsters under the age of two suffering scalds due to tea and coffee every year.
Plastic surgeons from the college and the British Burn Association are warning that children can face years of “gruelling” operations after suffering burns that are entirely preventable.
They are backing a new SafeTea campaign to prevent serious scalds from mugs of hot tea or coffee.
The NHS data shows there were 35,007 admissions for children to NHS specialised burn units in England and Wales over the past five years.
Some 49 per cent (17,052) of these involved scalds from hot food or drink.
In 2018 alone, 51 per cent (1,576) of child admissions for scalds to specialised burn services involved children aged two and under, with 57 per cent of these for avoidable hot tea and coffee scalds.
What to do if your child gets burned
For superficial burns:
- Remove the child from the heat source and take clothing off the burned area right away.
- Run cool (not cold) water over the burned area (if water isn’t available, any cold, drinkable fluid can be used) or hold a clean, cold compress on the burn for 3–5 minutes (do not use ice, which can cause more damage to the injured skin).
- Do not apply butter, grease, powder, or any other “folk” remedies to the burn, as these can make the burn deeper and increase the risk of infection.
- Apply aloe gel or cream to the affected area. This may be done a few times during the day.
- Give your child ibuprofen for pain. Follow the label directions for how much to give and how often.
- Keep the affected area clean. You can protect it with a sterile gauze pad or bandage for the next 24 hours. Do not put adhesive bandages on very young kids, though, as these can be a choking hazard if they get loose.
For partial thickness (second-degree) burns and full thickness (third or fourth degree) burns:
Call for emergency medical care. Then, follow these steps until help arrives:
- Keep the child lying down with the burned area raised.
- Follow the instructions for first-degree burns.
- Remove all jewellery and clothing from around the burn (in case there’s any swelling after the injury), except for clothing that’s stuck to the skin. If you have trouble removing clothing, you may need to cut it off or wait until medical help arrives.
- Do not break any blisters.
- Apply cool water over the area for at least 3–5 minutes, then cover the area with a clean dry cloth or sheet until help arrives.
For electrical and chemical burns:
- Make sure the child is not in contact with the electrical source before touching him or her, or you also may get shocked.
- For chemical burns, flush the area with lots of running water for 5 minutes or more. If the burned area is large, use a tub, shower, buckets of water, or a garden hose.
- Do not remove any of the child’s clothing before you’ve begun flushing the burn with water. As you continue flushing the burn, you can then remove clothing from the burned area.
- If the burned area from a chemical is small, flush for another 10–20 minutes, apply a sterile gauze pad or bandage, and call your doctor.
- Chemical burns to the mouth or eyes need to be checked by a doctor right away after being thoroughly flushed with water.
Source: Kids Health
Andrew Williams, a consultant plastic surgeon at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, who specialises in burns, said: “Burn injuries are common and potentially devastating.
“Tragically they occur too often.
“All it takes is for a small child to pull a kettle cord, or knock a cup of tea over, and they can be scarred for life.
“Every second counts when it comes to treating a new burn, so it is vital that parents know basic first aid – especially the importance of running scalded skin under cold water, for example.
All it takes is for a small child to pull a kettle cord, or knock a cup of tea over, and they can be scarred for life
“Recovering from a serious burn or scald can be physically gruelling if a patient has to undergo skin grafts and multiple operations, and it can impact the whole family.
“In young children, scar tissue might not grow with them, with the resulting need for potentially years of operations and therapy ahead of them.
“The road to recovery can also be psychologically very challenging, especially if a person has visible scars.”
Fadi Issa, consultant plastic surgeon at the regional burns unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, said: “The way a burn is treated in those initial seconds and minutes after is crucial.
“Our advice is simple: 15-20-25.
“Run the scalded or burned skin under water at 15C for 20 minutes – and you could reduce the depth of a burn by up to 25 per cent.
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“This treatment can convert a deep burn needing surgery to one that just needs simple dressings to heal.
“The other key information is not to put any lotions or potions on a cooled burn.
“Cover it in cling film and seek urgent medical assistance.”