Over 1000 children suffer burns that are preventable.
Share this article:
Cape Town - The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital treats over 1000 children annually in the centre for Paediatric burns.
Head of burns at the Red Cross, Doctor Gary Dos Passos, said flame burns are devastating injuries with substantial lifelong physical and psychological consequences, for the affected survivors and their families.
“Over 1000 children are treated at the RCWMCH, the tertiary referral centre for Paediatric Burns in the Western Cape, every year for a variety of burns injuries, including hot water or liquid burns, contact burns and flame burns,” he said.
Between January 2020 and January 31, 2021, 16 patients with flame burns of 25% or greater over their total body surface area were admitted to the world-class burns unit at the facility, he said.
“Five of these injuries were directly due to unsupervised children playing with either matches or lighters. Two of these injuries resulted when children were near open flames that had accelerants (petrol, lighter fluid, paraffin etc) thrown onto them in attempts to revive a failing fire. One child was severely burnt when a paraffin heater was knocked over while playing,” said Dos Passos.
He said burn prevention is a crucial component of burn management. While accidental fires are inevitable, many injuries can be prevented with vigilance, proper adult supervision and safer practices.
“Burn injuries increase dramatically during the winter months and caregivers need to be extra careful to ensure the safety of their children,” said Dos Passos.
While not a paediatric patient, Sibongile Moyi, is among those who’s endured severe pain after being burned with boiling water last year.
“My sister threw boiling water on me when we had an argument, it was very painful for me but I did not go to the doctor immediately, I thought it would heal on its own,” she said.
She said her entire right side from her neck to her legs.
Moyi said she still feels traumatised whenever she hears a kettle boiling water.
“To this day I can’t stand boiling water when I have to bathe, I don't let the kettle boil the water to be too hot,” she said.
She said the burn scars will forever remind her of what she went through.