“Second-degree burns”: Mum’s warning after 4-year-old’s hot water bottle injury

Posted in Safety.
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As energy prices continue to escalate, many families are turning to old-school approaches to keep themselves and their children warm. Hot water bottles are one such solution, but a Queensland mum is warning others to use these cosy devices with extreme caution.

“The water bottle had split”

Harmony Arrowsmith’s four-year-old son was seriously injured by a hot water bottle and wants to save other families from enduring similar experiences. Harmony had filled up a hot water bottle for her son, to keep him warm on a cool morning. She used hot – but not boiling – water and carefully and tightly sealed the lid.

“I had put it on his lap and he started crying,” Harmony told the ABC. “He was like ‘ow, ow’ so I pulled it off and thought it was leaking. The bottom of the water bottle had split. I pulled his pants down and we just went straight to the shower and I had him in the cold shower.”


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Second-degree burns

Harmony’s little boy was rushed off to hospital, where it was determined he’d suffered second-degree burns which narrowly missed badly injuring his genitals.

“He’s got second-degree burns on his right upper thigh all over the top, and some on the groin as well … and a few others on his left leg. We’re very, very lucky that it missed the worst spot that it could get. It would’ve gotten a lot more complicated if those bits got burnt.”

Did you know hot water bottles have an expiry date? Queensland mum Harmony Arrowsmith learned about the date stamp after an expired bottle burst on her 4-year-old son: https://ab.co/2JtuANb

Posted by ABC North Queensland on Monday, 16 July 2018

The four-year-old is expected to recover fully from his ordeal, without any scarring.

“We’re really lucky that I did put him under cold water straight away otherwise it would’ve continued burning through and it would’ve been a lot worse,” Harmony told the ABC. “Even though I was in shock and he was as well, I still remembered to do that, which was very lucky.”

Hot water bottle daisy wheel date stamp

Twelve-month life span

Two hundred people are hospitalised with injuries from hot water bottles each year in Australia, with the very young and the elderly being most at risk.

Hot water bottles should be replaced annually, and should comply with Australian safety standards.

Hot water bottles also carry a special date stamp that lets users know when it was manufactured. You’ve probably noticed this on your hot water bottles, but had no idea what it means. The stamp is daisy shaped and the daisy’s centre shows the year it was made. The first segment shows the month and the second shows the week in that month.

If your hot water bottle doesn’t carry this stamp, it’s already unsafe. If the stamp shows it’s over a year old, it needs replacing.

How to hottie safely

While we’ve possible all pondered what might happen if our hot water bottle sprung a leak or burst, there are some clear rules that can help prevent this from occurring.

The Australian and New Zealand Burns Association (ANZBA) suggests that to keep you or your child safe from burns, sleeping with a hot water bottle in the bed is best avoided. 

Hot water bottle do’s

  • Do buy your hot water bottle from a reputable retailer
  • Do check the date stamp and replace hot water bottles every 12 months
  • Do check hot water bottles for damage before each use
  • Do choose a hot water bottle with a large opening to reduce the risk of splashing when you fill it
  • Do pour slowly and do not overfill
  • Do ensure the plug is fitted properly – and sealed securely to prevent leakage
  • Do use a hot water bottle cover – or wrap your hot water bottle in a towel
  • Do remove the hot water bottle before you get into bed
  • Do store hot water bottles in a cool, dry location

Hot water bottle don’ts

  • Don’t use boiling water to fill a hot water bottle
  • Do not fill a hot water bottle when children are nearby
  • Do not warm hot water bottles in the microwave
  • Do not use a hot water bottle in a bed that’s fitted with an electric blanket
  • Do not roll on, press on or lie on a hot water bottle

And remember, always check for the daisy stamp, and buy from a reputable retailer to be sure that your hot water bottle complies with local safety standards.

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