Mum issues warning for parents after toddler suffers third degree burns from coffee

Arthur received third degree burns after a cup of hot coffee spilled on him. (SWNS)
Arthur received third degree burns after a cup of hot coffee spilled on him. (SWNS)

A mum has issued a warning after her toddler was left with third-degree burns from a pot of hot coffee.

Laura Hitchings, 34, had made the pot in preparation for her mum to come over before going to the bathroom.

It was when she was in the bathroom that she heard her two-year-old son Arthur scream from the kitchen. She raced to find that he had climbed on a stool and grabbed the hot pot which had spilled all over him.

"I was seconds away from the kitchen, and when I rushed in I could see that Arthur had used a stool to climb up onto the kitchen side," Hitchings explains.

"Arthur loves climbing, and he was tall for his age. His burns were like something from a horror film, his skin was just melting off."

Hitchings says she is speaking out about the incident, which happened in April 2019, to make sure it doesn’t happen to other families.

"These accidents can happen in the blink of an eye and it's very scary," she adds.

Before the incident, Hitchings says that Arthur and her daughter Polly, who was five at the time, were playing together in their garden.

"As they were playing so nicely, I quickly popped to the toilet before I heard a scream from Arthur," she adds.

Arthur had to have two surgeries to treat his burns. (SWNS)
Arthur had to have two surgeries to treat his burns. (SWNS)

Hitchings quickly rushed Arthur into the garden and used the hose to douse him in cool water to soothe the burns.

"When I was holding him under the garden tap, Arthur was screaming whilst his skin was coming off in my hands and I could instantly see that he was burnt, on one side, from the top of his ear right down to his thigh," she explains.

"I remember screaming for help, hoping the neighbours would hear me. His screams still haunt me today. I ran downstairs to get a Calpol, before attempting to put burn dressings on but, because he was so distressed, they wouldn’t stay on. As soon as the ambulance arrived, we rushed into the back where Arthur stayed on my lap, crying in pain."

Once at hospital, Arthur required surgery to remove the dead and injured skin, and later needed a further skin graft operation for the front of his thigh.

"I was absolutely terrified when Arthur went in for both of his surgeries," Hitchings explains. "I remember being sat there incredibly nervous that the surgeries wouldn't work. I also felt a lot of guilt because I made the coffee.

"Even though I did everything I did to prevent it, both me and my parents struggled emotionally, mentally and physically due to the extent of Arthur's injuries. His skin had to be creamed several times a day and it looked painful during the healing process."

Close-Up of coffee cup with cappuccino.
Hot drinks can cause burns even after cooling for 15 minutes. (Getty Images)

Four years on and Hitching says that Arthur’s skin is still sensitive, but has recovered well.

"Even now, he can't use his nails as the skin is delicate, so he uses the palm of his hand and that’s now normal to him,” she adds. "Arthur remembers what happened, and it'll always be on my mind. When I see people leaving hot cups around young children, it makes my heart stop a little bit."

In response to Arthur’s injury, Hitchings advises all parents and carers, who drink hot drinks but have young children, to always use a lidded cup.

According to recent data from The Children’s Burns Trust (CBT), over 10,000 babies and toddlers are burnt by a hot drink in the UK each year - around 30 children per day on average.

It adds that a cup of hot tea or coffee can burn your child even as long as 15 minutes after it's been made.

Further research from CBT says that 60% of all paediatric burn attendances for kids under three years old after due to hot drink burns.

The NHS warns that there are several other risk factors for kids around the home, including saucepans on hobs, kettle cords, oven doors, and hair straighteners and curling tongs.

It adds that when running a bath, put cold water in first so that you can’t raise the temperature too high. It’s also important to make sure you are with your children whenever they are in the bath to make sure they do not turn on the hot tap.

Child safety: Read more