Calls for manufacturers to help cut hair straightener burns

Alyssa Bray and her son Elijah Alyssa Bray and her son Elijah, who was burned by a pair of hair straighteners

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Calls have been made for shops and manufacturers to do more to stop increasing numbers of children being burned by hair straighteners.

The Electrical Safety Council claims some straighteners are sold without additional safety devices or advice.

Research suggested only a third of manufacturers provided heat proof mats or pouches with their products, said the ESC

It says straighteners now account for one in 10 child burns.

Alyssa's story

"It was terrifying and I began to panic. Luckily, my partner was there and came to help, bringing a bowl of cold water to place my son's hands in while we raced to the nearest A&E. We luckily were close to a hospital with a specialist burns unit and they were able to treat my son immediately, popping the blisters to reach the damaged skin underneath.

"One month later, his skin has not fully recovered and he has had to have continuous treatment involving hospital trips and weekly visits from a specialist burns nurse. We also have to regularly apply soothing creams and he will have to wear a specially fitted glove for a few weeks to help stretch the skin on the palm of his hand out which has tightened whilst healing.

"I am now incredibly careful with my straighteners, but have been left quite confused as to why they did not come with a heat resistant pouch to place them in at purchase. This happened in a split second, could happen to anyone, and I think all parents should be aware of just how much damage straighteners can cause. "

The ESC investigated 22 retailers and manufacturers over the last two months and looked at 77 hair straighteners from eight leading manufacturers.

It said around 10% of burns among children were caused by hair straighteners and claimed two thirds of parents did not store their devices safely.

A third of parents admit to leaving their products to cool down on the floor or hanging off furniture where children could easily touch or grab them while they are still hot.

Emma Apter, from the ESC, said: "It's really worrying that retailers and manufacturers are selling products that can reach 235°C without explaining the dangers of not storing them properly.

"Hair straighteners can cause burns so serious that surgery is required, and children are at even more risk since their skin can be 15 times thinner than that of adults. Retailers and manufacturers must do more to protect their customers."

Alyssa Bray, 30, from Calne, in Wiltshire, rushed her 11-month-old son, Elijah, to hospital in December last year after he grabbed her hair straighteners while they were warming up, burning his hand.

She said: "My son was playing happily by my feet. I was warming up my hair straighteners, placing the hair straighteners out of reach on the floor, when I briefly looked away to put some mascara on.

"I suddenly heard a dreadfully strange cry and turning around saw my son wriggling around on the floor.

"Instantly realising what happened I grabbed his hand and saw it was severely burnt, his whole palm and parts of his fingers were blistered."

Elijah is still receiving treatment one month later.

Katrina Phillips from the Child Accident Prevention Trust said many parents do not realise how hot hair straighteners can get.

She said: "Parents don't know that hair straighteners can get as hot as their iron.

"Toddlers are into everything but don't know that heat hurts. Add in the chaos of getting everyone ready and out of the house, and it's no surprise these horrible burns are on the increase.

"We urge parents to keep hair straighteners out of reach of small hands and feet, and store them away safely - in a heat proof pouch if you can."

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