Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide
Burns information for consumers

Burns information for consumers

Burns prevention

Learn Don't Burn

Campfire Safety:

    PDF iconbrochure (623kb)  |  PDF iconposter (640kb)

Cooking Safety:

    PDF iconbrochure (463kb)  |  PDF iconposter (2.3mb)

Hot water burns like fire:

   PDF iconbrochure (357kb)  |  PDF iconposter (1.1mb)

Hot surface burns:

   PDF iconbrochure (653kb)  |  PDF iconposter (633kb)

Treadmill burns:

   PDF iconbrochure (592kb)  |  PDF iconposter (1.5mb)

Causes of burns

There are six main causes of burns in children.

 

Cause

%

Description

Depth

1.

Scalds

60%

This burn is a result of hot liquid, usually hot tea, coffee or bath water. These burns are most common in the infant-pre school age group. At this age children are very fast and unpredictable in their behaviour.

Superficial – Deep

2.

Flame

25%

Results from an open flame or explosion. These burns are also associated with flash burns, where the skin is burnt from the heat of the surrounding flames. These burns are most often seen in toddlers playing with matches or teenagers experimenting.

Partial – Deep

3.

Contact

10%

Burn from touching a hot surface, for example a hot iron or oven door.

Superficial – Deep

4.

Electrical

2%

Exposure to a live current, for example putting a knife into a power point.

Deep

5.

Chemical

2%

Contact with a chemical substance. This may be on the skin or swallowed. This includes drinking liquids such as drain cleaner.

Partial – Deep

6.

Sun

1%

Exposure to excess of the suns ultraviolet rays.

Superficial – Partial

Approximate Time for a Serious Scald to Happen to a Child

Type of Liquid

Temperature

Time

Boiling water from a kettle

100°C

< 1 sec

Cup of tea/coffee

70-95°C

< 1 sec

Hot water from the tap

60°C

1 sec

Hot water from a kettle 5-10 mins after boiling

55°C

10 sec

Hot water from a tap with a temp regulator

50°C

5 mins

Burns Presentations by Age

Each year scalds account for approximately 60% of paediatric burns. The type of burns we see vary depending on the age group of the patient.

  • 0–2 years of age
    The most common types of burns are scalds caused by hot cups of tea or coffee. Many of these require skin grafting. Immersions in hot baths also account for a percentage of severe burns in this age group.
  • 2–5 years of age
    Scalds still account for the majority of burns due to hot cups of tea or coffee, as well as water from electric jugs/kettles and teapots. Flame burn also make up a large percentage of burns in this age group from clothes catching alight from open fires or heaters or from the child playing with cigarette lighters or matches.
  • Up to the age of 5 years
    Contact burns frequently occur in winter when a child either falls or touches a heater. The resulting burns are usually to the hands, face or buttocks. Solid fuel heaters are often involved.
  • 5 –16 years of age
    Scalds make up a smaller proportion of burns, burns are more likely due to accidents while cooking or from spilling hot water while having steam inhalations. Flame burns caused by a combination of matches and flammable liquids are common with boys in this age group, and often result in very extensive burns.

First Aid

  • REMOVE THE HEAT SOURCE
    For flame burns "Stop, Drop and Roll" – extinguish flame with a blanket.
    Remove clothing to affected areas.
  • COOL THE WOUND
    Use cool running water for 20 minutes to cool the wound. Do not use ice.
  • REMOVE CONSTRICTIVE JEWLERY TO EFFECTED AREAS
    Watches, rings, bracelets and necklaces are a heat source and can cause burning to continue.
  • COVER IN CLING WRAP
    This will keep the wound clean and keep out the air.
  • SEEK MEDICAL HELP

Contacts

Burns Advanced Nurse Consultant – (08) 8161 7000 page 4258

Burns Fellow – (08) 8161 7000 during hours

On-call Surgical Registrar for Burns – (08) 8161 7000 out of hours

WCH page link iconBack to Paediatric Burns Service

last modified: 03 Jun 2019