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Hair Straighteners

Shocking surge of more than 20% in Hair Straightener burns to children

The charity, with support from Electrical Safety First, is calling for greater awareness of the dangers associated with hair straighteners among parents.

The latest figures, which come from the International Burn Injury Database (iBID), show that burn and scalds to children from hair straighteners in the first six months of 2023 increased by 20% compared with the same period the previous year.

• Increase is seen in the most serious burns treated in specialist units, not children seen and discharged from A&E
• Electrical safety experts warn straighteners can reach more than 220 degrees, and take up to 40 minutes to cool down
• Children’s skin can be significantly thinner than adults in places, leaving them vulnerable to serious injuries from heat

Worryingly the increase relates to the more serious injuries where children have to be admitted to a Specialist Burns Unit and, alarmingly, doesn’t include the thousands of children seen and discharged from A&E departments.

We are calling for heightened awareness and safety measures to protect young ones from an accident that can happen to any parent and child in the blink of an eye. The majority of hair straightener burns among children happen when toddlers touch, grab or tread on the hot hair straightener plates.

Debbie, Mum of toddler Billy who was burned by hair straighteners at just 14 months old says: “Whilst we were upstairs getting ready for the day, I turned my back for a split second, and turned back to see Billy holding onto my hair straighteners. He didn’t make a sound and stood very still and silent with his eyes wide, I grabbed the straightener out of his hand, scooped him up and ran into the bathroom to put his hand under the cold tap. At this point the realisation kicked in and Billy started to cry. I have never felt panic and fear like it. After arriving at our local hospital, we were told that Billy’s burn was deep and we needed to go to the Burns & Plastics unit at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. He had 3rd degree burns and would need a skin graft. That was when guilt crept in, although it didn’t really creep, it hit me like a wave and it has never left me since. After around 18 months Billy was signed off from the Burns & Plastic aftercare team, but the effects of his injuries are long-lasting. As a parent, I only wish two things: firstly, that the straighteners were out of his reach so this hadn’t happened at all, and secondly that it never happens to any other child or parent.” 

Keep your children safe

If you use hair straighteners or curling irons, keep them out of reach of children. Children’s skin can be significantly thinner than that of adults. Follow our top tips to make sure that you, and your children, stay safe from electrical burns:

1. Keep hair straighteners out of reach of children
Children’s skin can be significantly thinner than that of adults so it’s important to keep hair tools out of reach.

2. Use a heat proof pouch
Hair straighteners stay hot up to 40 minutes after they have been switched off. A heat proof pouch is the easiest and safest way to store a product after use.

3. Follow these crucial steps
In the event of a serious burn, follow these crucial steps:

  • Remove any clothing, jewellery or nappies.
  • Cool the burn with running tap water for 20 minutes if within 3 hours of burn injury. Do not apply ice, butter or toothpaste.
  • Call for help – 111, 999 or local GP for advice.
  • Cover the cooled burn with loose Clingfilm or a clean non-fluffy cloth. Warm the child/person.

Ken Dunn, Consultant Burns and Plastic Surgeon (retired) and Vice Chair of The Children’s Burns Trust, whose work is focused on children and their families said: “The increase in hair straightener burns among children is deeply troubling. These injuries are entirely preventable, and it is crucial that parents and caregivers are aware of the risks associated with these devices. Simple steps, such as using heat-resistant pouches and ensuring proper storage, can make a significant difference in protecting our children from these accidents.”

Giuseppe Capanna, Product Safety Engineer at Electrical Safety First commented:  “Every parent wants to protect their child and burns or even fires caused by beauty appliances can happen in the blink of an eye to anyone. The risk doesn’t end when you unplug your device either as the heat generated from straighteners can still be high enough to cause burns for some time after. Ideally buy your hair straighteners from a manufacturer who supplies you with a heat proof pad, keep them away from flammable surfaces and always keep them out of reach of the curious hands of children.”

A burn injury is for life

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