It can happen in a blink of an eye, and it’s every parent’s nightmare.
A hot drink is placed on the bench, and a split second later a toddler pulls it onto themselves.
Sharon Geintenbeek, a busy Mum of 19 month-old twins, had just made herself a cup of coffee, and turned to grab milk from the fridge when she heard a crash.
“Jaxon, in a split second, pulled the hot coffee on top of himself. That’s how quick it happened,” said Sharon.
The Melbourne family’s distressing ordeal plays out on the latest episode of Channel 9’s Paramedics, where Ambulance Victoria paramedics rush to the aid of little Jaxon, who has suffered face, chest and arm burns as a result of pulling the hot drink on himself.
“Seeing him there and looking at how burnt he is, it’s gut wrenching,” says Sharon on the show.
Driving with lights and sirens on to the family’s home in Glen Waverley, MICA paramedic Mark talks about the implications of hot liquid being poured on a child’s face.
“The main concern around that would be if the child’s had any airway involvement, because that creates fairly rapid onset of swelling, which can cause breathing problems and essentially the airway to close over.”
Twenty minutes of cold water on a burn can help reduce the severity of the injuries.
Mark arrives to find the worried parents have done exactly the right thing and run continuous cool water over Jaxon’s injuries immediately after the accident.
Paramedics provide pain relief to the toddler and dress the burns before transporting him to hospital, where he is placed in an induced coma for three days. He later undergoes a skin graft to repair the affected areas.
Five weeks later, Jaxon is recovering really well. His skin grafts are healing and he’s back to his active, cheeky self, glad to be back home with twin sister Alexis.
Five weeks on, Jaxon is doing really well – and now knows to steer clear of coffee cups.
“As a parent of a toddler myself, I know that the kids are so inquisitive and they’re always pulling at things, and you can’t always have eyes in the back of your head, so I appreciate how easily an accident like this can happen,” said MICA paramedic Mark after the incident.
Major burns are a medical emergency and require urgent treatment – always call Triple Zero (000).
Every year, at least 5,000 Victorians are treated for burn injuries in emergency departments and hospitals across the State. In the past four months, Ambulance Victoria has been called to 85 cases where someone had suffered burns, and 15 of these required urgent transport to hospital by the air ambulance helicopter.
Immediate treatment for burns is to hold the affected area under cool running water for at least 20 minutes.
Pain relief and dressings can be used to treat superficial (or minor) burns at home – remember to check regularly they have not become infected.
Here are some top tips for preventing burns and scalds at home and outdoors:
In the kitchen
– Always supervise your child in the kitchen, and if possible encourage them to stay out of the kitchen when you are cooking. This can be really difficult with younger children, so consider installing a toddler safety gate.
– Keep hot drinks and foods out of reach, and turn handles away from the edge of benches and tables (so they aren’t easily grabbed).
– Store the kettle and cord away from the edge of the bench, and turn pot handles away from reaching hands.
In the bathroom
– Ensure the temperature of hot water to basins, baths and showers so it does not exceed 50°C – a licenced plumber can help with this.
– Always test the water before letting your child get in the shower/bath.
Around the home and outdoors
– Install fixed firescreens or heater guards around open or glass-fronted fires and heaters.
– Keep lighters, matches and open flames out of reach.
– Always supervise children when camping. Keep your child away from campfires and coals and make sure they always wear shoes outside – old coals can often still be hot from the day before.
Sources: Better Health Channel; VicBurns; Royal Children’s Hospital
Catch-up on episodes of Paramedics on 9Now.