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Campaign highlights dangers of hair straighteners to children

The campaign was launched following a rise in the number of children attending A&E at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children with hair straightener burns.

Image: elzoh via flickr/Creative Commons

THE DANGERS OF leaving hair straighteners where children can access them are being highlighted in a new campaign.

The campaign has been launched today  in Northern Ireland to raise awareness of the dangers hair straighteners can pose to children, including causing burns which can require hospital admission and surgical intervention, such as plastic surgery.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and Home Accident Prevention Northern Ireland (HAPNI) are working in partnership with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust on the Too Hot to Handle campaign, following a rise in the number of children attending A&E at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children with hair straightener burns.

Hospital

The campaign, which is funded with £5,000 from the Electrical Safety Council (ESC), was officially launched by RoSPA’s chief executive Tom Mullarkey.

Figures from the Children’s Hospital show that:

  • There were 17 children aged between three months and nine years who attended A&E at the hospital in 2009-10 with hair straightener burns.
  • This represented nine per cent of the 187 children who attended with “thermal injuries” during that year.
  • The average age of the children admitted with hair straightener burns was 18 months.

Hair straighteners can reach temperatures in excess of 200 degrees, which is hot enough to fry an egg, and can take as long as 40 minutes to cool down.

According to the campaign, horrific burn injuries can occur very quickly to children because their skin can be 15 times thinner than adults.

The most common location for a child to sustain a serious hair straightener burn is on their hand, but injuries have also been sustained to the head, arm and foot.

Safety

RoSPA, the Trust and the ESC say these burns they can be prevented by following a simple safety code:

  • Switching hair straighteners off
  • Unplugging them straight away
  • Then sliding them into a heat resistant bag
  • Finally, storing them out of the sight and reach of children.

The campaign will run until March 2013. Ita McErlean, RoSPA’s home safety manager in Northern Ireland, said:

It doesn’t always take a flame to burn and it is easy to forget that hair straighteners remain hot for a good period of time, even after use. Turning hair straighteners off and storing them in a heat resistant bag out of the sight and reach of inquisitive children, is a simple way to ensure that the risk of receiving a nasty burn is reduced.

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