National Burns Awareness Month

Photo of baby in rear-facing car seat.

National Burns Awareness Month (NBAM) is led by Kidsafe – Australia’s leading community organisation dedicated to child injury prevention –  and is held in at the start of winter each year when there is a significant increase in burns incidents involving children.

The aim of the NBAM initiative is to drive greater community awareness of burns prevention and the correct first aid treatment for burns.

Throughout the month of June each year, Kidsafe invites you to raise awareness of burns prevention and correct first aid by posting on social media and sending a press release to your local newspaper.

Types and causes of burns injuries in children.

  • Scalds caused by hot liquids such as tea/coffee, instant noodle soup, or bath water coming into contact with skin. Scalds often result in skin grafting and can cause scarring.
  • Caustic chemicals found in paint thinner, bleach, dishwasher detergent or pool chemicals can all cause severe burns if they come into contact with bare skin.
  • Fire or flame burns commonly occur outside with open fires while camping, but can also occur when children play with lighters, matches or sparklers.
  • Ash and coals from fires can also cause serious burns.
  • Hot objects such as BBQ plates or saucepans that are put on the ground to cool cause serious burns when children try to touch or pick them up.
  • Other burns include friction burns (from electric treadmills), electrical burns (from sticking objects into power sockets) and sunburn.

Facts about burns injuries in children.

In Queensland, almost two children aged up to four are hospitalised per week for more than a day after sustaining a serious burn injury. Death and injuries from burns are more common among boys than girls and can occur at any time, but most commonly occur during the evenings and on weekends.
Babies and young children have fragile skin and their skin burns deeper and more quickly than adults and at lower temperatures.
A BURN is damage to the skin or deeper tissues caused by sun, hot liquids, fire, electricity or chemicals. The degree of severity of most burns is based on the size and depth of the burn.

A SCALD is a burn caused by hot liquids, vapours or steam.
The most common type of burn injury for children aged 0-5 years is scalds. Most scald burns in this age group are due to young children mimicking adult behaviour when they pull down hot drinks off tables, reach up to grab handles of saucepans or play with the taps in the bath.
Almost 80% of serious burns and scalds to young children occur in the home with the kitchen being the location for half of all paediatric burns.

How to prevent burns injuries in children

Hot liquid scalds

  • Ensure you household hot water system has a tempering valve installed to limit the temperature to 50°C.
  • A safe bath temperature is between 37-38 degrees (36 degrees for a newborn). Make sure you turn the cold tap on first and off last, to cool the spout and test before you put your child in.
  • Keep hot drinks away from the edge of the table and never hold a hot drink and a child/ baby at the same time.
  • Use the elements at the rear of your stove for cooking, turn handles away from the edge.
  • Install a child gate to prevent children from accessing kitchens and bathrooms.

Hot object burns

  • Keep clothing irons, curling irons and hair straighteners out of reach, especially when cooling down.
  • Install guards around sources of heat such as heaters, furnaces, BBQs and fireplaces.
  • Keep children at least 1 metre from a radiant heat source and 2 meters from an open fire pit or campfire.
  • Always put your campfire out with water, not sand or dirt.
  • Be extra vigilant with children around open fires and keep your eyes on them and within arms reach.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach.
  • Choose low fire danger clothing for young children.
  • Have a fire escape plan that you practice with your children and learn how to use your fire extinguisher and fire blanket.
  • Never put a BBQ plate or saucepan on the ground to cool

Chemical burns

  • Keep all chemicals and cleaning products, including dishwashing materials, up high out of reach or in cupboards with child-resistant locks.
  • Keep garden sheds padlocked or have a locked storage cupboard in the garage for petrol and other solvents.

Electrical burns

  • Install and regularly test electric safety switches and photoelectric smoke alarms.
  • Plastic safety caps for all power points in your home will help prevent access for little fingers and objects.

Friction burns

  • Use a child gate to prevent access to exercise rooms.
  • Keep the magnetic key for treadmills out of reach and unplug the machine when not in use.

Sunburn

  • ‘Slip, slop, slap and wrap’ – remember to dress children appropriately with, hats and sunscreen, and keep them in the shade.

Find out more about sun exposure in small children here

The correct first aid treatment for minor burns is ‘Remove, Cool and Cover’.

  • Remove any clothing or jewellery from the area (unless it is stuck to the skin).
  • Cool the burn with cool running water for 20 minutes.
  • Cover with a clean dressing.

You should seek medical help immediately if the burn is on the on the face, hands, feet, genitals or buttocks, if it is larger than a 20 cent coin or blistered.

Who are we?

Kidsafe Queensland is a not-for-profit, non-government organisation with a vision for a safer world for our kids at home, at play and on the road. For more than 40 years, we have been keeping kids out of hospital by teaching parents and caregivers how to prevent injuries with evidence based, practical safety advice. We have travelled the safety journey with over 20,000 Queensland families and the conversation always starts when baby arrives.