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Arch Dis Child. 2013 Jul;98(7):485-9. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2012-302901. Epub 2013 Apr 16.

Contemporary hazards in the home: keeping children safe from thermal injuries.

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Centre for Child & Adolescent Health, Health and Life Sciences, University of the West of England, Bristol, Oakfield House, Oakfield Grove, Bristol BS8 2BN, UK.



To explore the knowledge and reported thermal injury prevention practices among parents of children aged 0-4 years in disadvantaged areas.


Parents of pre-school children in Children's Centres in four study areas in England (Nottingham, Newcastle, Norwich and Bristol) were interviewed using a structured schedule. Interviews covered smoke alarms, bedtime routines, fire escape plans, other thermal prevention practices and parental knowledge of first aid.


Of the 200 respondents, most reported ownership of at least one smoke alarm (n=191, 96%), of which 95% were working. Half reported a fire prevention bedtime routine (n=105, 53%) or fire escape plan (n=81, 42%). Most parents had matches or lighters in the home (n=159, 80%), some stored where children under 5 years of age could reach them (n=30, 19%). There was a high prevalence of irons (n=188, 94%) and hair straighteners (n=140, 70%). A third of both devices were used daily. Just 17 (12%) parents reported leaving hair straighteners, when hot but not in use, in a heatproof bag. Knowledge of correct initial first aid for a small burn was good (n=165, 83%), but parents reported other potentially harmful actions, for example, applying ointment (n=44, 22%).


Most families report at least one working smoke alarm, but many do not have fire escape plans or fire prevention bedtime routines. A number of reported practices could compromise child safety, such as storage of matches or lighters and leaving hair straighteners to cool unprotected. Reappraisal of health promotion messages, in light of new household consumables, is necessary.


Children's Rights; Comm Child Health; General Paediatrics; Injury Prevention

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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