A campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of hair straighteners to children has been launched in Glasgow by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), urging parents to turn them Straight Off, and put them Straight Away.
The temperature of hair straighteners can reach up to between 210-230°C – nearly six times the temperature of a household hot water supply, three times the temperature of a freshly-made cup of tea, and hotter than a domestic iron.
These extremely high temperatures can have devastating effects, such as leaving life-long scars, for anyone who touches hot hair straighteners, particularly young children whose skin is thinner and more fragile than an adult’s.
RoSPA has teamed up with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, as well as the Scottish Fire Service and Electrical Safety First, to produce “Straight Off, Straight Away” posters to be placed in GP surgeries, pharmacies, hospitals, early years centres, and other key places around the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) health board area.
Health visitors and teams working with families in the area are also being briefed to discuss these safety messages when carrying out their visits with families of young children.
Elizabeth Lumsden, community safety manager for RoSPA Scotland, said: “By being more vigilant parents can drastically reduce the risk of their children being injured in the home.
“Although anyone who uses straighteners may be aware of how hot they are, many do not realise that they stay hot for a long time after being switched off, or may leave them unattended for a few seconds while they go to do something else – which is all the time it takes for an accident to happen.
“So we are reminding people to switch them Straight Off, and put them Straight Away.”
Lesley Nish, senior health improvement officer, Public Health, NHSGGC, said: “Each year in Greater Glasgow and Clyde we treat a number of children at our Burns Unit who have injured themselves with hair straighteners.
“While using hair straighteners at home parents can help to protect children from these horrific burns by using a heat resistant bag if they have one at home, or if they don’t have one, they can purchase a heat resistant bag to use with their straighteners either from shops or online.”
Sharon Ramsay, burns nurse specialist at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, said: “It’s mostly toddlers we see here and the most common burns are to their hands and feet where they have either tried to pick them up or stand on them.
“This type of injury is very painful for the children and they are often quite distressed when they arrive. Parents too can be very upset seeing their children in pain and there’s the obvious guilt they feel if they have left straighteners lying about.
“Children also have much thinner skin than adults. This means while some burns heal, others can leave unsightly scars. Occasionally some may need to have plastic surgery to repair the skin.”
The posters are being launched today as part of RoSPA’s Family Safety Week 2016.
Family Safety Week was set up by RoSPA in a bid to help millions of people protect their loved ones from accidents – the number one cause of early preventable death.
This year’s five-day event has the theme of under-fives in the home. Advice and information is available at www.familysafetyweek.org.uk.