The dangers of hair straighteners and burns to children

 Hair straighteners are great for grown-ups but not such good news for children.  A staggering one in 20 admissions to specialist burns units in the UK last year were due to accidents involving hair straighteners.

This National Burns Awareness Day, Electrical Safety First with the support of the Children’s Burns Trust, is calling for greater awareness of the dangers associated with hair straighteners among parents.

According to the latest UK figures, last year there were 392 children admissions to specialist burns units as a result of hair straighteners. This accounts for 5% of all admissions to pediatric burns units.

A study that looked at parents of children under five was carried out by Electrical Safety First.  Of those who used hair tools, almost one in 10 parents (9%) reported that their child or a child in their care had received a serious burn from the appliance. It is easy to understand why as I have also burnt myself many times on these appliances.

(A serious burn here is defined as: contact which broke the skin, caused the skin to blister or left a permanent scar)

Hair straighteners and curling irons can reach temperatures of 235°C. Busy parents with much on their minds might forget that even though hair straighteners may be unattached they can stay hot for up to 40 minutes after they are switched off.

The study showed that of the parents who use electric hair tools, one in four (27%) said that they had left one on and unattended. Over half said that they have left hair tools unattended when it was still warm or cooling down and almost one in five (18%) admitted to leaving one of these products on and unattended when children were in the room or when children could access the room.

So what to do should the worst happen and your child gets burnt?




  • Cool burn with cold running water for at least 20 minutes. If cold water is not available, use another cold, harmless liquid, such as milk
  • Get medical help for any burn or scald which is larger than a 50p coin
  • Remember to keep calm and give lots of comfort and reassurance to the child
  • DO NOT remove burnt clothing which has stuck to the skin. Burnt clothing is sterile and will protect the wound.
  • Remove carefully any jewellery, belts, restrictive clothing or footwear (that is not stuck to the skin) from the injured area before it begins to swell
  • Cover the burn with a clean, dry, non-fluffy dressing and secure loosely.  A plastic bag or piece of cling film is ideal
  • DO NOT put butter oil or any sort of grease or lotion on a burn or scald – these can cause further damage and increase the risk of infection
  • DO NOT apply sticking plasters or any other type of adhesive dressing to the skin – they will cause pain and damage when removed
  • DO NOT break blisters – you may introduce infection into the wound
  • DO NOT give the child anything to eat or drink except for painkillers
  • Give the recommended dose of children’s painkiller syrup


Safe and Sound cover first aid for burns extensively on our first aid courses.

For more information on a course near to you call 0208 445 8998

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