Parents ‘confused’ about correct way to deal with burns, city doctors say

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NINE out of every 10 parents in South Yorkshire do not know how to respond if their child suffers a burn injury, medical researchers have found.

A team from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and Sheffield Children’s Hospital are calling for an urgent education campaign to teach parents how to react immediately after a burn.

Hamish Graham, lead author of the study, said knowledge of the correct treatment was ‘disappointingly low’ - and said mixed advice had led to ‘confusion among the public’.

In the first study of its kind, 188 parents in South Yorkshire were asked what action should be taken if a two-year-old child was scalded.

Parents’ answers were then compared to first aid standards, which recommend the following actions are taken:

n remove hot clothes and jewellery;

n run the burn under cold water for 10 to 20 minutes;

n seek help from healthcare professionals;

n dress the wound with cling film or a clean cloth.

Only 10 per cent of parents knew what steps to take.

Some 60 per cent of respondents did not know to remove their child’s clothes following a scald.

And a further 65 per cent did not say they would run the burn under cold water for more than 10 minutes.

Mr Graham, a surgical trainee who led the research, which is published in the journal Burns, said: “Simple first aid following a burn injury has been shown to significantly improve the outcome.

“By following four simple steps parents can help to minimise the damage done to their child.

“Our research shows awareness of the best steps to take following a burn injury is disappointingly low across South Yorkshire.

“Burn first aid advice tends to vary between countries and even between organisations within the same country, and this has led to confusion among the public.

“Improved awareness is needed across all ethnic groups.”

The research team has now designed posters, translated into six languages, to promote awareness of how to deal with a burn.