Hot drinks are the most common cause of burns to young children

Parents are being urged to take care with hot drinks in a UK-wide campaign to tackle the most common cause of burns to young children.

The SafeTea campaign is based on evidence collected by researchers from Cardiff University, the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England and is using materials tested in collaboration with early years staff and parents of young children. Research shows that more than 50,000 children in the UK attend hospital with burns each year, with the majority happening to children under five. Hot drinks account for 60% of hospital attendances with burns in children under 3 years – or 30 young children every day.

 Professor Alison Kemp, from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, who led on the research, said: “There are thousands of incidents of hot drink scalds every year, where potentially devastating injuries could be prevented with a few simple steps. Burns from hot drinks can cause serious and extensive skin damage to a young child, with lifelong scarring and the need for sustained medical treatment into adulthood. That’s why we are reminding parents to keep hot drinks well out of reach. Hot drinks can cause damage to a child’s skin even after 30 minutes. If a child is burned, the recommended first aid is to cool the area under running water for 20 minutes”.

Professor Alan Emond from the University of Bristol adds: “ The key messages of SafeTea are: ‘keep hot drinks out of reach of children, never pass a hot drink over a child, or hold a drink and a baby at the same time. If a child is burned, the correct first aid is cool, call cover: cool the area under running water for 20 minutes; call NHS Direct or 999; cover the area with clingfilm. The moments following burn are the most critical time for preventing long-term damage and scarring.”

SafeTea is informed by scientific research undertaken by the Children’s Research Network funded by The Scar Free Foundation and Health and Care Research Wales with financial support from the British Burns Association, Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers of the City of London, the VTCT Foundation, Cardiff City Region Exchange and Cardiff University. For more information, go to the SafeTea website: