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How to protect your child from burns and scalds

Burns and scalds are among the most traumatising injuries that children can receive—they cause intense pain, with children often needing long-term treatment.

This is a fact that Mat and his daughter Milla know all too well.

Milla was just eight years old when she suffered severe burns to her lower body. On this particular day, she came home from a party feeling hungry, so she did what she’s done many times before and prepared herself one of her favourite snacks—some instant noodles.

Usually, Milla would sit up at a table while she eats, but on this occasion she didn’t. Instead, she sat down on the couch with the bowl of hot instant noodles resting in her lap.

“It all happened so fast,” recalled her father Mat.

“Milla was sitting eating when I heard her scream. I won’t ever forget it.”

Some of the hot water from the bowl she was eating out of accidentally spilt onto her lap. This made Milla jump, causing the entire contents of the bowl of instant noodles and hot water to tip onto her.

Milla immediately sustained severe burns to the inside of her thighs and groin area.

“Within seconds I had her pants off and running her legs and groin under cool water. She was sobbing and in shock.”

“I thought for a moment that the noodles had stuck to her but it was actually her skin bubbling and peeling.”

“I felt sick but knew I had to get water on her and the ambulance called.”

Thankfully, Mat knew the correct first aid treatment for burns—his actions, along with Milla being taken to hospital quickly, played a significant role in her recovery. Amazingly, she was home in just 24 hours—very sore and with an ongoing routine to manage her pain and injuries.

Milla recalled how she felt when the accident happened.

“I was so scared. The pain was horrible – on a scale from 1-10 it was definitely a 10!”

Today, Milla is still impacted by this tragic and painful accident that has left her with permanent scarring. She still requires dressings, frequent moisturizer, and she’ll likely need operations in the future.

Her message to other kids is very simple: “Be very careful. Always sit down with your food and don’t put it on your lap.”

How can you protect your child from burn and scald injuries?

The home is the most common location for childhood burn injuries, with the majority occurring in the kitchen—particularly when a child is near someone cooking.

Common burn and scald hazards for children include hot drinks and food, hot water, household heaters and fires, treadmills, vehicle exhausts and appliances such as irons and hair straighteners.

Along with active adult supervision, Kidsafe Australia advises that important prevention steps include:

  • Keeping children out of the kitchen when meals are being prepared
  • Placing hot food, drinks and appliances out of reach; and
  • Installing guards and barriers around heaters or fireplaces.

What is the correct first aid treatment for a burn?

Taking the correct first aid steps can make a significant difference in the rehabilitation and long-term outcome of a burn injury.

If a burn does occur, it is important to remember to:

  • Remove yourself from danger. Remove any clothing and jewellery from the burn area unless well stuck to the skin
  • Cool. Place the burn under cool running water for twenty minutes. Never use items like ice, oil or butter on a burn as these can make it worse
  • Cover the burn with a clean dressing
  • Seek medical attention if the burn or scald is on the face, hands, feet, genitals or buttocks, is larger than a 20-cent coin or blistered.


National Burns Awareness Month is an initiative run by Kidsafe Australia to raise awareness about the prevention and correct first aid treatment of burns and scalds throughout June.

For more information about the campaign and burns prevention and first aid, please visit kidsafe.com.au/national-burns-awareness-month

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