A MUM has issued a warning after her two-year-old son suffered horror burns when he grabbed a boiling hot cup of tea.
Brad Schreuder had just turned around after making a brew when his curious son Alex reached up and tipped the scalding liquid on himself.
The tot had suffered second-degree, or partial-thickness, burns all over his chest and down his right arm.
His quick-thinking mum Fern scooped him up and jumped in the shower with him until an ambulance arrived to take him to hospital.
There, doctors credited her intuition as she had managed to save him from suffering any permanent scarring.
Fern is now urging others to be more vigilant with making hot drinks around kids and to know the steps to take in an emergency.
‘I felt sick’
Recalling their terrifying experience, which happened in April 2017, the secondary school teacher told Sun Online: “My husband had boiled the kettle and poured himself a cup of tea.
“He turned around to put a plate in the dishwasher, and Alex came up behind him to see what was in the cup and accidentally pulled it down on top of himself.”
Fern, who was in another room, said she heard her husband yelling for her.
“I heard his voice and instinctively just knew, straight away what had happened. It was one of those awful gut feelings,” she said.
I heard his voice and instinctively just knew, straight away what had happened. It was one of those awful gut feelings
“When I heard my husband yell, before I even got to the situation, I felt sick.
“But then as soon as I got into the kitchen and saw my husband with Alex under the kitchen tap, I went into autopilot.
“I knew what to do and I had to help my little boy.”
She added: “As soon as I got to the kitchen my husband already had Alex under the kitchen tap, I grabbed him and moved to the shower – as the burns were all over his chest and right arm, he needed more water coverage than what the tap could offer – so that my husband was free to call the ambulance.
“We stood in the shower together, me fully clothed singing nursery rhymes and trying to distract him.”
She said the ambulance arrived “in what felt like minutes” and took them to the hospital.
Fern added: “The doctors in the emergency department were amazing.
“They were impressed with the first aid treatment we had given and that we knew what to do.
“The 20 minutes of cold water on the burns actually stops the burn process.
“If left untreated, or not treated for long enough under the cold water, the burn will continue to burn, making the injury worse and the chance of skin grafts much higher.
“Initially we didn’t know if he would need skin grafts – this was information that we found as the treatment went on.”
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
For the first week, the family were in and out of three different hospitals for dressing changes and observations.
This went on for two months before Alex was given a silicone patch and compression garment to wear for 23 hours a day for 21 months.
His treatment finished in January this year – and thankfully he only has a tiny amount of scarring on his right arm.
Fern said: “Alex is absolutely fine now. The stomach has healed so well that you can’t even tell that a burn ever occurred, it really is quite amazing.
“His right arm has a little bit of scarring – the skin is thicker and a lighter colour, but nothing compared to what it could have been.
“As he grows, it will continue to change and disappear.”
Alex, who turns five next week, is getting ready to start his first year of school and his mum added that he will be a “completely normal five-year-old boy”.
Fern, who also has a two-year-old son named Ryan, said: “Be vigilant with your supervision of children.
“Accidents happen, and they happen really quickly.
“Prevention is also better than any cure we can ever administer so protect your babies by minimising the dangers to them.
“Hot drinks to the back of the bench, don’t drink hot drinks while holding children or babies, push your pot handles to the back of the stove and take out that insurance policy of doing a first aid course, hopefully you never have to use the information.
“But on the off chance something does happen, you are prepared and know what to do.”
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Fern and Brad attended a baby and child first aid course with Tiny Hearts Education when Alex was just six weeks old.
Rachael Waia, Tiny Hearts Education co-founder and national training manager, said Fern’s first aid response prevented Alex from needing serious medical intervention.
She said: “The initial treatment for burns is to place the burn under cool running water for 20 minutes – which is exactly what Fern and her husband did.”
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