Paramedic Warns of the Danger of Hot Water Burns for Children in Diapers

Though no parent wants to imagine their child coming in contact with scalding water, a paramedic from Australia is sharing a must-know in case of this emergency.

As much as you rationally know that accidents happen, they're pretty much the last thing you want to think about as a parent. Thankfully, knowing the best steps to take in case of particular emergencies can make all the difference. In a viral Instagram post, a paramedic from Australia named Nikki Jurcutz recently implored parents to keep one particular tip in mind: Should your young child come in contact with hot water and be at risk of burns, it's crucial to remove their diaper STAT.

Jurcutz, who is also the CEO of an Australian parenting organization called Tiny Hearts Education, shared that because diapers are designed to absorb liquid, they'll hold onto water, putting a child at risk for burn injuries.

Alongside a video that shows how diapers soak up any liquid, Jurcutz wrote, "If your bub sustains a burn, one of the first things you'll need to do is remove any items of clothing or jewellery that aren't stuck from the burn site. This is where [diapers] come in."

She explained that if a child who wears diapers accidentally pours a cup of boiling water down their chest and into their diaper, it'll absorb and hold the boiling water. "So you need to get that [diaper] off ASAP," wrote the paramedic. "If it's stuck, leave it and fill it with cool running water [while simultaneously cooling the burn] to remove the heat from the [diaper]."

An image of a mother holding a diaper.
Getty Images.

Jurcutz continued, "Don't worry about carefully taking it off; rip it if you have to. Your priority right now is cooling the burn, waiting for the ambulance, comforting your child and removing items that aren't stuck, with [diapers] being one of the first things I want you to reach for to remove that hot water from the genital area."

The reason she felt compelled to share the tip: "Burn first aid is so so important."

Followers applauded the tip. One commenter who is a nurse wrote, "We have seen a few burns to the groin in kiddies in our time in ED, and they were all made sooo much more severe from those [diapers]."

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) echoes Jurcutz's advice, noting that serious burns can be caused by hot water or other hot liquids and can cause permanent injury and scarring to the skin. Their immediate steps for burn care:

  • Soak the burn in cool water ASAP—but don't use ice, as it may delay healing, and do not rub a burn, as it can increase blistering.
  • Cool off the clothing quickly by soaking it in water. Remove any clothing from the burned area unless it is stuck firmly to the skin. In that case, they advise cutting away as much clothing as possible.
  • If the injured area is not oozing, cover the burn with a sterile gauze pad or a clean, dry cloth. If the burn is oozing, cover it lightly with sterile gauze if available and immediately seek medical attention. If sterile gauze is not available, cover burns with a clean sheet or towel.

The AAP also emphasize the importance of protecting your child from tap water scalds. It recommends adjusting your water heater so the hottest temperature at the faucet is no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.9 degrees Celsius) to prevent scald burns.

The bottom line: Burns can unfortunately happen, so it couldn't hurt to brush up on the best way to preempt and treat them.

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