Scalded toddlers get incorrect first aid

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Sarah WiedersehnAustralian Associated Press

More than two-thirds of toddlers burned in hot drink accidents are not treated with correct first aid, new Australian research has found.

Hot drink scalds are the leading cause of childhood burns in Australia, and 74 per cent occur in children aged under two.

A year-long study of children aged 0-36 months at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Queensland found only 28 per cent of children received correct burn first aid for hot drink scalds.

This was despite 66 per cent of parents reporting that they had undertaken first aid training in the previous 12 months.

University of Queensland PhD candidate Jacquii Burgess at the Centre for Children’s Burns and Trauma Research – who led the study – says there is strong evidence that applying 20 minutes of cool running water to a burn or scald reduces pain, scarring and hospital stays.

“The most common reason parents reported applying water for shorter periods of time was that they thought it was adequate or the child was too distressed,” Ms Burgess said.

The study also found that on most occasions children were within arm’s reach of a supervising adult when a hot drink scald happened.

“Lack of supervision is often cited as a primary contributor to childhood injuries but for these scalds it appears that attention and continuity of supervision play a more important role than just being close to your child to keep them safe,” she said.

This finding, says Ms Burgess, may reflect the competing demands placed on parents and caregivers in a busy household.

“The majority of incidents recorded were caused by the child pulling down a cup of hot liquid over themselves.

“It’s about putting your cup of hot coffee or tea to the back of the bench or out of reach of your toddler to give yourself those few extra seconds to intervene.”

The research has been published in the Burns journal.

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