Commissioner's Blog: Keep kids safe and warm this winter
During the chilly months, it’s important to keep our families warm while also staying vigilant to the potential dangers of commonly-used heating products.
Children are particularly vulnerable to burns and accidents from ‘winter warmers’ such as hot water bottles, open flames, heaters and loose-fitting sleepwear.
While hot water bottles are a cheap and popular way to fend off the cold, they can cause serious burns if not used correctly. According to Perth Children’s Hospital data, eight children presented to its emergency department in the two years from June 2020 to 2022 with injuries relating to hot water bottles. That’s why they should only ever be filled with hot tap water (never boiling water) and always covered with a fitted cover or wrap.
Given hot water bottles can deteriorate with age, it’s smart to keep an eye on the 'daisy wheel' date marking that shows when the product was made. Better yet, buy a new hot water bottle every year, because even though they might look in good condition on the outside, they could be hiding damage internally.
Multiple children are also admitted to hospital each year with burns sustained from their clothing catching fire, so keep them well away from open heat sources like fireplaces and heaters.
Children’s nightwear like pyjamas and dressing gowns must display a fire hazard label, but even nightwear considered a low fire hazard can still be flammable. Earlier this year, a range of Target Australia kids’ pyjamas were recalled for being too loose-fitting on the wearer, meaning they posed a fire risk if exposed to a heat or flame source.
When shopping for kids’ clothes, be particularly cautious when buying online or while on holidays, as they may not be subject to Australian mandatory safety standards.
If your child does suffer a burn, the advice from Kidsafe Australia is to apply cool running water to the injury for 20 minutes. Products like ice, oil or butter should never be placed on a burn and any jewellery or clothing should be removed unless stuck to the skin.
Simple precautions such as checking for recalls on all products, following safety guidelines, and being vigilant about safety can go a long way in protecting your family and home. Find more winter safety tips at www.productsafety.gov.au/wellwinter and learn more about burns prevention at www.kidsafe.com.au.