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Heater Safety – 8 Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe this Winter

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Keeping Your Kids Safe this Winter – Heater Safety

It’s just so cold! Winter is upon us – even in Queensland; and if you’re anything like me your heater came out sometime a few weeks ago when your feet turned to ice-blocks on the early morning floor. Heaters certainly have a place in our homes; however, every year children are hospitalised due to burns. According to Children’s Health Queensland, 15 children in the last 2 months have been treated at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital for heater burns. The injuries range from superficial third degree burns to full thickness first degree burns. Children of 2-5 years old were the most commonly admitted, with hands being the predominant point of injury. Even touching the grate or casing of the heater can lead to permanent scarring, and in some cases prolonged treatment times.

Kidsafe has issued an online fact sheet detailing the measures parents and carers can take to avoid their little ones getting burnt this winter.

8 Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe this Winter

  • Remember that there is no nightwear on the market which is 100% fireproof, so choose materials which have a low likelihood of catching alight. Wool poses a lower risk as does nylon, however, nylon can melt and stick to the skin. Choose garments that are close-fitting with no frills and check the fire danger warning on the label.
  • Chenille and cotton-flannelette are highly flammable so it would be advisable to avoid these materials for nightwear.
  • For those of you who enjoy sewing, check that the commercial material you have chosen falls within the low fire danger range.
  • Before pulling your heater out of storage check online to make sure that the model you are using has not been recalled. Also check the chord for any fraying or breaks, and ensure that the power outlet on your wall is securely attached. When you turn the heater on stay alert to any unusual sounds or smells; these could be an indication that your heater needs to be replaced.
  • Keep the heater in a central room where it can be supervised easily by an adult. Burns to children often occur when they have been left alone in the room with a heater, so investing in a fireguard can also decrease your child’s chances of injury. To be effective the guard must be securely attached to a wall so that the heater is behind a firm barricade. It must also be a decent height with gaps between 5-9cms to avoid other injuries such as falling in; or getting a head, arm or finger stuck.
  • Rather than leaving a heater in your child’s room overnight, use it initially to heat up the room- perhaps while you read them a story; then remove it when you leave. This ensures that you have supervised the area while in use. Wearing long pyjamas and adding extra blankets to the bed is a safer solution to keep out the cold, and it decreases the risk of dehydration during the night.
  • Think twice about using baby walkers during the colder months as they make it a lot easier for little hands to reach hot surfaces.
  • Finally, one of the most important things that you can do is to teach your child how to be safe around heat sources. You can create imaginary scenarios such as ‘what would you do if you got burnt or caught fire?’ When the heater is turned off and cool, use it as a prop to enact how these accidents can happen, and what they would need to do next. For example, if they burnt their hand they must place it under cold running water for 20 minutes and call out for someone’s help. Remember that acting fast is essential when in a burns emergency, so children need to know what to do. You could also teach your child how to avoid being burnt and then help them to set up their own scenario in which they teach their favourite toys about fire and heat safety, or explain it to their siblings. By engaging your child’s imagination they will come to fully understand what it takes to live safely. In this way they can enjoy what their home has to offer with minimal risk.

Nothing beats learning life skills early on…

Heaters and other electrical appliances don’t only cause burns to children, they can be deadly when left unattended or when faulty. If you do nothing else this winter, check that you have working fire alarms in your home. Put a first aid kit in your garage so you can access it from outside. Show your children how to escape a fire if it was ever to occur in your house by making the easiest exits obvious, and finally, role-play this simple advice to avoid toxic smoke inhalation- drop down low and go, go, go!

For emergencies call: 000

One response to “Heater Safety – 8 Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe this Winter”

  1. Hampton Swim School says:

    Great article!! I sometimes forget to read the labels of the kids PJ’s as I just always assume they are safe.

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