Experts warn of the dangers of hot drink burns

Monday 14th October 2019

Experts warn of the dangers of hot drink burns

Burns specialists at Queen Victoria Hospital are warning about the danger of hot drinks around children and older people.

To coincide with this year’s national burns awareness day (16 October), the hospital’s experts want to remind people of the importance of prevention and also effective first aid if you are first at the scene. They are supporting the UK-wide SafeTea campaign and calling on adults to be aware of the potential danger hot drinks pose.

Queen Victoria Hospital has seen a year-on-year increase in referrals to its paediatric burns unit. Between April 2018 and April 2019, 479 children were treated for scalds, the majority of which happened in the child’s own home. Tea and coffee scalds were the main cause.

National research shows more than 50,000 children attend healthcare settings with burns each year, with a peak age for infants and toddlers being between 8 and 18 months old.

The hospital has also seen an increase in tea and coffee scalds sustained by people aged over 65. In the same period, 30 per cent of the burns it assessed were as a result of tea and coffee. Kettle spills are also a contributing factor in this age group, resulting in an average of just over one admission to the hospital a month.

Nora Nugent, consultant plastic surgeon and burns lead at Queen Victoria Hospital, said: “Each year we treat hundreds of children with scalds and burns injuries which are avoidable, many of which will leave life-changing scarring. Prevention and good first aid are key in reducing the number of burns and scalds that occur each year. Acting quickly, whether it’s a child or adult who has been burnt, can reduce immediate pain and long-term scarring. If the unthinkable does happen, remember the mantra ‘cool, call and cover’. This immediate first aid can help make all the difference.”

The hospital is 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 until wounds are assessed by health professionals.