Babies and children * First aid

Hair straighteners add to increase in childhood burns

Hair straighteners linked to increase in childhood burns Parents unaware of burn risk to children, poll shows

A desire for poker-straight hair has helped to double the number of children under the age of 5 being treated in hospital for contact burns, according to figures released today by the Child Accident and Prevention Trust (CAPT) to mark the launch of Child Safety Week.

While childhood accident rates overall have started to decline, this doesn't hold true for burns accidents in children. NHS statistics show that 233 under-fives suffered contact burns needing hospital treatment in 1997-98 compared with 358 in 2006-7.

Sian Falder, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, said:

"We are seeing more and more children with severe burns to their feet, mouth and hands due to hair straightener injuries. On average we see 44 children a year who need extensive treatment to repair their injuries. It is becoming a major area of concern for us, as parents just aren't as aware of these items posing a threat."

Hair straighteners can reach temperatures of 220 °C, and can burn children as badly as an iron. Children can still be burnt with them up to eight minutes after being unplugged.

As children's skin is fifteen times thinner than an adults, burns from hair straighteners can cause permanent scarring.

According to a poll of over 1,000 mothers commissioned by the charity, parents are most concerned about the dangers posed by electrical sockets. However, as the live parts of the socket are protected by a shutter, toddlers usually don't have the dexterity or patience needed to gain access to them.

Only one in 15 mothers feared their child to be at risk from hair straighteners, compared with one in five who feared their child was at risk of being hurt.

Katrina Philips, Chief Executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust said:

"With the rapid pace of modern life, it can be a challenge for parents to stay one step ahead to preventing serious accidents.

It's often the small changes that make all the difference. The trick is to make them a habit - like putting your straighteners in the same place out of young children's reach."

More information

To find out more about child safety visit or contact a local SureStart Children's Centre.

This article was published on Mon 22 June 2009

Image © Viktors Neimanis -

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