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Cost of living crisis: Burns and scalds to children from hot water bottles have increased by 45%

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Brand new insight released today on National Burn Awareness Day 2023 shows an alarming increase in the number of life-altering burn and scald injuries to babies and children involving hot water bottles.

New data from the International Burn Injury Database (iBID), shows that burn and scalds to children in the first six months of 2023 increased by 45% compared with the same period in 2022. Burns and scalds to adults and the elderly from hot water bottles have also increased by 19%.

Children’s Burns Trust and British Burn Association, have released this exclusive insight to raise awareness of the risks posed by hot water bottles and the devastating nature of burns and scalds, which can lead to life-altering injuries.

The ongoing cost of living crisis, and the financial pressures that households have been under for some time – coupled with universal credit deductions – has led to a change in behaviour where parents are looking for ways to keep their children and families warm without increasing their energy bills, such as through the use of hot water bottles.

Children’s Burns Trust, the only UK charity dedicated to supporting burn-injured children and their families, are concerned that the ongoing financial crisis will see more and more parents using hot water bottles as the colder months of the year begin.

After their son sustained a 9% scald from a burst hot water bottle, a family from Swansea warn of the dangers of not checking the condition of your hot water bottle before using it, knowing how to read the daisy wheel to check the expiry date and being aware of the correct first aid should an accident occur. Their son was in hospital for 4 days and it took three weeks for the burn to heal. On National Burn Awareness Day they want to emphasise the risks associated with using a hot water bottle to help other families avoid going through the same experience.

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 significant increase we have seen of injuries from hot water bottles to children is alarming and as the colder months of the year approach – coupled with the ongoing cost of living – we’re urging families to avoid using hot water bottles for children.
If you do use them at all in the home, you should remember two key pieces of information about how to use them safely – never fill them with boiling water and always check the rubber flower symbol found on the neck which shows which month and year the hot water bottle was made. Any bottle older than two years old should be replaced.By raising awareness of the risk posed by hot water bottles and educating people on the safest way to use them – as well as the correct first aid should an injury occur – we can help to reduce the number and resultant scarring of these devastating injuries.”

The core aim of National Burn Awareness day is to urge families to be aware of the risks to children. A burn injury is for life, the scars are physical as well as psychological, and can present life-long challenges for the individual and their families.

Hot water bottle safety

Hot water bottles can be dangerous and cause burns if they are not cared for or used properly.

Rubber deteriorates over time so old hot water bottles can burst or leak and cause serious burns. Check for signs of wear and tear regularly by looking at the flower symbol which indicates exactly when it was made. Don’t use a hot water bottle that is more than 2 years old.

Never fill a hot water bottle with boiling water.

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