Winter burns risk warning


Children are most at risk of burns and scalds during the winter months.

Kidsafe Victoria is helping parents and carers to prevent burns and making them aware of the correct first aid if a burn does occur.

Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand (BRANZ) data showed 1009 children aged under 15 years were admitted to burns units across Australia and New Zealand in 2020/2021 – more than 19 per week.

Scalds accounted for nearly half of these cases (49 percent), often caused by hot drinks and food.

Kidsafe Victoria general manager Jason Chambers said a child’s skin was thinner and more sensitive than an adult’s and would therefore receive a more severe burn.

Mr Chambers said many children admitted to burns units did not receive the recommended initial first aid.

“Many people do not realise that using ice, creams, ointments, or butter on a burn can make the injury worse,” he said.

“Applying cool running water to the affected area for 20 minutes is crucial – this can make a significant difference in the rehabilitation and long-term outcome of the burn injury.”

If a burn or scald does occur:

Remove yourself from danger, and remove any clothing and jewellery from the burn area unless stuck to the skin;

Cool the affected area by placing the burn under cool running water for 20 minutes;

Cover the burn with a clean dressing; and

Seek medical attention if the burn or scald is on the face, hands, feet, genitals, or buttocks, is larger than a 20-cent coin, or is blistered.

Kidsafe recommends parents:

Use gates or barriers to restrict children’s access to the kitchen;

Use the rear hotplates and ensure pot handles are turned inward and away from the edge of the stove;

Place hot drinks out of reach of children and avoid holding a child when having a hot drink;

Make sure children eat while sitting at a table;

Check the temperature of the water before bathing a child is no warmer than 38 degrees;

Limit the delivery temperature of hot water in your bathroom taps to a maximum of 50 degrees;

Closely supervise children around barbecues, pizza ovens, and fire pits; and

Supervise open flames – such as candles, incense, and oil burners – and keep them out of reach of children.