Spike in burns cases prompts push for prevention

Words: Alanah Frost, Herald Sun

Photography: Rob Leeson, Herald Sun

Spike in burns cases prompts push for prevention

Coronavirus could be having an impact on the number of children treated for burns, with a spike in numbers prompting calls for increased awareness around young kids’ exposure to hot liquids.

Kids have been treated for burns at a record rate this year, prompting renewed calls for awareness and prevention.

The Royal Children’s Hospital has already treated 18 children with burns from hot noodles this year, compared with 20 kids for the whole of 2019.

There have also been more children hospitalised for major burns than the total number admitted in any other year in the last decade — with three children already receiving further care.

Dr Warwick Teague, Director of Trauma Services and Burns Surgery clinical lead, says the jump is likely because children are spending more time at home due to COVID-19.

He said the most common place to sustain a burns injury was at home.

“It’s not about less care being given at home, it’s about the exposure in the home environment when they’re in the home,” Dr Teague says.

“At the RCH we see approximately 600 new burns injuries a year and the standout cause is a scold burn.

“But we’ve also seen an increase in the number of other hot fluid burns during COVID-19 — particularly burns in relation to children cooking and hot noodle burns.

Mat Radcliffe’s daughter Milla, 7, was rushed to the RCH four weeks ago after spilling a bowl of 2-minute noodles on her lap.

Mr Radcliffe, from South Morang, said he heard a “blood curdling scream” and immediately put Milla in the shower while his wife called an ambulance.

“We were able to have her in cold water in the shower in 10 or 15 seconds of it happening but her skin just disappeared before our eyes,” he said.

He said Milla received burns to about 9 per cent of her body, including her lap and legs and spent a night at the RCH.

She is still having her dressings changed weekly but is “doing great.”

Mr Radcliffe credited his first-aid training with keeping him calm under pressure.

“You have to be onto it – we’re always out with lots of families with kids and you never know when these things are going to happen,” he said.

Dr Teague encouraged families to make sure children were supervised when in the kitchen or eating foods such as noodles or soup.

He added knowing what to do if a child does receive a burn was crucial.


REMOVE clothing (unless it is stuck to the burn)

COOL burn with cold running water for 20 minutes

COVER the burn (but do not use any gels, creams or ointments)

SEEK medical help if the burn is affecting an important area, such as the face OR if the burn is bigger than a 50c coin OR if you are still concerned.

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