If a curling wand or new hair straighteners were on the top of your Christmas list this year, you may be feeling beautiful and bouncy. But, beware straighteners and wands can get as hot as your iron and stay hot even after they’re switched off.

It’s fascinating to watch Mummy or big sister (or perhaps Daddy) do their hair, but your baby or toddler can suffer serious burns if they grab your wand or straighteners, sit on them or put them in their mouths.

Nearly 1 in 10 parents of under-fives admit their child has suffered a serious burn from hair straighteners or tongs.

Suddenly I heard a really horrible cry. Jack was on the floor screaming. I grabbed his little hand and saw how badly burnt it was – there were blisters all over his palm and fingers”

The findings, from Electrical Safety First and the Children’s Burns Trust, also show that serious burns from hair straighteners are to blame for 1 in 20 of all admissions to specialist paediatric burns units.

As hot as an iron

Hair straighteners can reach temperatures of 235oC – that’s as hot as an iron. In fact, they get so hot you could cook breakfast on them. If they can fry bacon, imagine what they can do to a child’s skin! 

Hair straighteners can get hot very quickly – some take just 15 seconds. And they can stay very hot for a long time after you have unplugged them – some are still hot enough to burn after 15 minutes. 

Thinner skin

The skin of a baby or toddler is much thinner than that of an adult, so their skin burns more quickly and at lower temperatures.

Accidents and child development

Toddlers don’t really understand hot and cold, or that heat burns. They don’t know to pull away from something that’s burning them, which is why they can be so badly burnt. And they won’t necessarily learn from experience not to do it again.

Small children can understand the instruction ‘hot, don’t touch’. But they don’t really understand danger or consequences. And they don’t have reliable memory, so they may not always remember what they’ve been told, especially if excited or distracted. 

Common accidents

If hair straighteners are left lying around, crawling babies, toddlers and small children can: 

  • Grab at them and burn their hands or wrists
  • Step or sit on them and burn their legs or feet
  • Pull them down on top of themselves and burn their face
  • Copy adults and try to use them.  

Safety tips

Children can be kept safe from hair straightener burns with three easy steps:

  • Put them out of reach straight away
  • Put them in a heat-proof pouch if you have one
  • Put them well out of reach and sight, say on a high shelf.

Make it habit to keep hot hair things out of reach

First aid advice

Immediate first aid can prevent long-term scarring and stop the burn from getting worse. Read our first aid advice for burns and scalds.