Burns: Key facts

Burns: Key facts

Key facts about burns from fire and flame, and burns from hot objects, surfaces or liquids.

Burns from fire and flame: Key facts

  • an average of just under 5 children under the age of 15 die each year from being burnt by fire or flame (based on a 5 year period from 2002 to 2006)
  • boys and younger children are at higher risk of fire related injury
  • house fires in which children die are most commonly caused by unattended heaters or someone playing with matches, lighters or candles

Burns from hot objects, surfaces or liquids: Key facts

  • burns from hot objects or substances result in fewer deaths but cause over 5 times the number of hospitalisations than burns from fire and flame
  • young skin burns more quickly and deeply than adult skin, and at lower temperatures
  • a hot cup of tea spilled over a baby or toddler is equivalent to a bucketful of boiling water tipped over an adult
  • of the children aged 1 to 2 years old who are admitted to hospital for burns, over half are severely scalded by spilt hot drinks (tea and coffee) and other liquids (such as soups and noodles)
  • excessively hot tap water in baths, showers and sinks is the next most frequent reason for hot liquid burn (or scald) admissions to hospital
  • almost 40 percent of New Zealand homes have tap water that is dangerously hot, and nearly 10 percent have water so hot that burns are almost inevitable
  • a small adjustment to your hot water tap temperature makes a big difference to your child's risk of burn injury
  • children who are severely burned often require many operations and special treatments over extended periods of time and have to deal with the consequences of disfigurement from their burn for the rest of their lives

safekids logoThe Paediatric Society of New Zealand wishes to thank Safekids Aotearoa for permission to reproduce this information.

This page last reviewed 29 July 2017.
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