ChildSafe launches Child Safety Month campaign to prevent burns

Child safety advocacy organisation ChildSafe has announced the theme for Child Safety Month this August. Throughout the month, the charity will be raising awareness of how to prevent and treat burns among children. In the last year, the Trauma Unit at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital treated 1 117 children for burns-related injuries. Over half of burns occur in children of nine years old, and younger. The majority of these burns affect children under the age of five years.

ChildSafe has planned a month-long programme of events and campaigns throughout August, focused on preventing and treating burns. Burns are not only related to fire. Scalding from boiling or very hot liquids is also classified as a burn — and these occur more frequently than fire-related burns. If a child does survive the incident, more serious injuries can require a lifetime of rehabilitation and medical attention.

The figures highlight the impact of burns caused in households — particularly over the winter months, as Yolande Baker, ChildSafe Executive Director, explains: “Children can get burned at any time of the year, but we see a dramatic increase in the number of children treated for burns in the colder months, with stoves, heaters and open fires used to heat homes.”

Children under the age of five are most susceptible, with their innate curiosity about the world, and their growing independence. “That’s why it’s important to teach them from a very early age how they can avoid getting burned,” says Baker.

Baker continues: “Every injury caused by burns is a tragedy. But these injuries can be averted with extra vigilance and monitoring from parents and care-givers. As much as children can be burned in many ways, there are also many ways to prevent children from getting burned. There are ways to make homes more safe, and ways to remind children every day of the dangers of being near to flames or boiling liquids. But it’s something that needs to be remembered every day.”

To mark the launch of the campaign, Childsafe has released a list of the top ten ways to prevent burns. These simple tips will protect children and may avoid devastating tragedies that could have life-changing consequences.

Childsafe’s Top Ten Tips for Preventing Burns

  1. Be vigilant with children around heaters, stoves, candles and other open flames such as candles, paraffin lamps, portable stoves, braais and wood or coal fires
  2. Turn pot handles towards the back of the stove
  3. Place hot liquids and food at the centre of the table
  4. Always test the water temperature with your elbow before placing a child in the bath
  5. Place kettles and cords at the back of the counter or table
  6. Teach children from as young as possible about the difference between the hot and cold taps
  7. Avoid overloading power points, and don’t run electrical wires under carpets
  8. Cover unused power outlets with safety plugs
  9. Never hold a child while cooking on the stove
  10. Immediately extinguish wood and coal fires with water, and paraffin, oil or petrol fires with sand or a fire extinguisher, once you’ve finished using them

ChildSafe also offers some simple first-aid steps which can be taken if a child is burned:

  1. Remove the child from the source of danger
  2. Cool a burn under cold water for a long time
  3. Protect the injury with a clean cloth or plastic wrap
  4. Seek advice immediately from a medical professional or emergency services

Child Safety Month runs throughout August. For more information about the events and information sessions during the month, contact, or check the organisation’s website

About Childsafe

Childsafe is a campaign of the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Southern Africa (CAPFSA) and a member of Safe Kids Worldwide. We are a non-profit South African organization promoting optimal health and development of all children under the age of 18. Childsafe assists in reducing injuries of all severity through research, education, environmental change and recommendations for legislation.