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Billy's hair straightener injury
  • Increase is seen in the most serious burns treated in specialist units, not children seen and discharged from A&E
  • One mother issues warning to others parents over “split second” that left her son with deep burn
  • 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

21st February 2024: A surge in the most serious injuries caused by hair straighteners in toddlers and children has been revealed by the Children’s Burns Trust and Electrical Safety First.

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.

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.

Children’s Burns Trust, a charity dedicated to preventing burns and scalds in children and Electrical Safety First, whose aim is to reduce deaths and injuries caused by electricity in UK homes, 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.

Experts are warning that hair straighteners can reach temperatures of over 220°C and stay hot up to 40 minutes after they have been switched off.

Common beauty appliances can pose a serious risk to children due to the high temperatures they reach. Accidents related to burns in children can happen in an instant   and Children’s Burns Trust and Electrical Safety First are urging parents to keep straighteners out of the reach of children, whose curiosity can put them in danger.

Experts at the Children’s Burns Trust reveal how children’s skin can be significantly thinner than that of adults and with the temperatures that hair straighteners reach, serious burns to children are becoming all too common.

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.” 

Hair Straighteners Safety Tips:

1. Keep hair straighteners out of reach of children

2. Use a heat proof pouch to store the product after use

3. Follow the three C’s

In the event of a serious burn, follow the three Cs:

• Cool the burn with running tap water for 20 minutes if within 3 hours of burn injury. Remove any clothing, jewellery, nappies.

• Call for help – 111, 999 or local GP for advice.

• Cover the cooled burn with loose clingfilm or a clean non-fluffy cloth.

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.”

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