Baby Burns

Reporter: Cassie Silver

It's one second of curiosity that turns to chaos.

A cup of tea changed the lives of parents Russell and Chelsea Halls forever, "she couldn't reach up there the day before but this day she reached up and pulled the cup of tea towards herself and the cup of tea fell and burnt from the top of her face to the bottom of her stomach"

3 year old Ella suffered burns to over 20% of her body. She needed skin graphs and pressure suits, living at Princess Margaret Hospital for months.

"Ella's was a significant burn. We don't fortunately often see burns greater than 10 percent of the body's surface area. Ella did suffer a burn much greater than that" Burns expert Dr Fiona Wood says scalds commonly happen at home.

"We will admit around about 200 children requiring in patient care for their burns each year." Most of these little ones are less than four years old.

Half of burn injuries to children occur when coming into contact with a hot liquid or steam.

Fiona says even bath water can do damage, "burns can occur at low temperatures for longer, and high temperatures shorter"

Water at 50 degrees can take up to five minutes to burn a child. Water at 60 degrees can scorch in seconds.

"A child with a cup of coffee poured on them is the same as pouring a bucket of boiling water on an adult so we have to think of the size of these children" Scott Phillips from Kidsafe says it's curious kids doing damage.

To safe guard your home, Kidsafe recommends having temperature limiters on all plumbing.

Start with cold water in the bath or shower, and then add the hot.

And test to see how hot it is- EVERY time.

In the kitchen put hot fluids away from the edge of tables and bench tops.

Invest in stove guards, use the back burners when cooking and make sure pot handles are facing away.

For all heated appliances make sure they are switched off and the cords tucked away.

As for hot water bottles and heat packs, if it's warm for you, it's boiling for a baby.

Fiona Wood says to reduce scarring and cool the burn all you need is water, "that is 20 minutes of cooling and it's no ice. 15 to 18 degrees is optimum and it is better if the water is moving because it takes the heat away"

And that's exactly what the Halls family did. Dr Fiona says "there is no doubt that Ella's parents influence the scar she wore for life. And it reduced it by the first aid measures they took, so if we are in a situation where we can remember cool the burn, warm the patient"

For Ella it's a long road ahead, the scars are a constant reminder. "She just has to have a massage every morning with Sorbolene cream and she will just have to keep doing that until they tell us not to do it, we never thought that this could happen to us and it's changed our lives"

Further details

www.kidsafewa.com.au/kidsafewaseasonalprogramwinter.html