Burns and scalds - invest to save

Childhood burns and scalds are hugely costly for the NHS - treating a simple cup of tea scald costs £2,000 per child. Dr Amber Young, Prevention Lead for the British Burn Association, argues that we need to invest more in accident prevention. Six babies and toddlers are admitted to hospital every day due to burns and scalds injuries. Hot drinks are the number one cause of scald injuries for under fives. Given the scale of the problem, it’s hardly surprising that childhood burns and scalds are a significant and increasing cost for the NHS.

The costs of burns and scalds to the NHS

Dr Amber Young, Prevention Lead for the British Burn Association, conducted a study of costs at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol. She found that:

  • A simple cup of tea scald, which requires one or perhaps two days treatment in hospital, costs the NHS close to £2,000 per child.
  • A more major burn injury – though without any intensive care – costs the NHS over £60,000.

This is without factoring in the financial costs to families, who face long journeys and high travelling costs to visit children receiving specialist treatment in regional burns centres.

In an interview with CAPT, Amber Young argues that more priority needs to be given to accident prevention. While a lot of money is going into the treatment of burn injuries, investing in prevention would save the NHS – and families and children – a huge emotional cost and financial cost.

Barriers to prevention

One of the barriers to prevention is that parents simply don’t understand that a young child’s skin is much thinner than an adult’s. They are horrified when they see the havoc wreaked to a baby’s skin by a simple cup of tea.

Neither do they know that a small child has no automatic reflex to move their hand away from something hot – which is why a contact burn from an oven hob can be so serious.

While a bath water scald – perhaps the most disfiguring injury a child can suffer – isn’t even on most parents’ radars. That is, until their toddler plays with the bath hot tap or tries to retrieve a favourite toy from a steaming bath tub.

An effective prevention resource

That’s why CAPT has developed a brand new DVD resource pack, Too hot to handle, to raise awareness and provide practical prevention advice.

Designed for use with groups of parents, the pack covers three typical situations: a scald from a hot drink, a contact burn from a hob and a bath water scald.

It follows the same effective format as our recent Look who’s falling DVD – three films with accident reconstructions, interviews featuring parents’ true stories and an expert explaining the consequences of the accidents for children and their families.

We know that this format works to protect children: 9 out of 10 parents said they would act to make their children safer after viewing Look who’s falling.

The resource pack also includes easy-to-use support cards, providing background facts and figures, first aid advice, discussion cards for each accident scenario and activity ideas to bring the issue to life. All of which makes sessions with parents very easy to facilitate.

It also includes 20 copies each of three different flyers – on hot drink scalds, contact burns and bath water scalds – to hand out to parents and reinforce key safety messages.

Too hot to handle is available now from CAPT’s online shop for just £36 plus £8.95 P&P. Think ahead and save on delivery charges by adding additional flyers to your order – buy our DVD pack plus 150 flyers (three of each) for just £54.75.

Watch Dr Amber Young's interview

More information on the costs of burns and scalds

Buy CAPT’s burns and scalds DVD

You can buy CAPT’s Too hot to handle DVD resource pack:

Updated June 2012