Hair straightener accidents now account for one in 10 young burns victims – with children as young as 18months left needing plastic surgery
The beauty product can reach 220C, which is hot enough to fry an eggChildren's skin is up to 15 times thinner than adults so far more vulnerable to burnsStraighteners takes 40 minutes to cool down

By
Claire Bates

PUBLISHED:

11:31 GMT, 16 October 2012

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UPDATED:

12:34 GMT, 16 October 2012

Hair straighteners are causing 'horrific injuries' to hundreds of young children across the UK, a safety charity has warned.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said at one hospital in Northern Ireland, one in 10 of children admitted with burns, had been injured by the beauty device with some needing plastic surgery.

Hair straighteners can reach scorching temperatures of 220C – hot enough to fry an egg. As they take 40 minutes to cool they remain dangerously hot for far longer than many parents realise.

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Hair straighteners most commonly cause hand injuries among children

Hair straighteners most commonly cause hand injuries among children

Hair straighteners reach temperatures of 200C and most commonly cause hand injuries among children

Youngsters who grab or fall on them can suffer disfiguring injuries as their skin is up to 15 times thinner than adults.

Figures released by the Royal Belfast for Sick Children show that 17 children aged between three months and nine years attended A&E at the hospital in 2009-10 with hair straightener burns. The average age of the patient was just 18months. They represented nine per cent of the 187 children who attended with 'thermal injuries' during that year.

In June this year, the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol revealed is had
treated 110 children for serious burns in the last five years.

Across the UK this would add up to hundreds of serious injuries every year, with thousands more receiving minor injuries.

Children are most likely to receive burns to their hands, however children have also sustained injuries to the head, arm and foot.

Nicola Vance, a mother from Belfast,
revealed her 19-month old toddler was injured after falling onto her
straighteners a year ago just after she had switched them off. Although
she whisked him away, just a couple of seconds did serious damage.

Alfie Vance received facial burns after he fell onto his mother's straighteners

Alfie Vance received facial burns after he fell onto his mother's straighteners

She said: 'Alfie has just learned to
shuffle so he was moving along the bed, he caught himself in the sheets
and just fell forward onto the straighteners.

'The
middle of his eyebrows was all red and his skin had melted. If the
straighteners had been any hotter, they would have peeled off his
forehead.

'Alfie was lucky that he didn't lose his eyes, although he has been scarred for life.'

Now RoSPA are working with the
Belfast Health and Social Care Trust on a 'Too Hot to Handle Campaign'
to raise awareness of the risks.

Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health
adviser, said: 'The campaign in Northern Ireland builds on other
awareness-raising work that RoSPA has been carrying out across the UK.

'We
know from reports and from talking to the people who work in A&E
that burns from hair straighteners is a significant issue and a national
problem.

'And yet the
risks posed are so easy to reduce. Simply by putting these devices into
heat resistant bags after use, and storing them in a place that’s out of
the sight and reach of children, we can go a long way to preventing the
kind of burns which can scar for life.'

The campaign has created a video to show just how hot straighteners can become.

Dr Julie-Ann Maney, consultant
in paediatric emergency medicine at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick
Children, said: 'Hair straightener burns are preventable. The Too Hot to
Handle campaign will highlight how dangerous these devices are,
particularly to small children and that the public need to be aware of
the horrific injuries that can be sustained.'

Phil Buckle, director general at the
Electrical Safety Council, said: “The ESC is delighted to support the
Too Hot to Handle campaign.

'Our grants funding schemes mean that we can
work with organisations like RoSPA Northern Ireland to raise awareness
of electrical dangers in the home and to change people’s behaviour so
that they act more responsibly around electricity.

'Electrical goods are now common items
in people’s homes, so it is essential that they understand the risks
associated with products like hair straighteners, particularly when they
are using them around children. By taking the simple steps suggested in
the campaign, people will be able to protect themselves and their
families.'

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