A toddler suffered horror burns to his shoulder and chest after pouring a mug of hot tea over himself in a freak accident.
Claire James’s two-year-old son, William, had to be taken to hospital and nearly needed skin grafts after he accidentally pulled the hot beverage off a kitchen worktop.
But after posting her experience online with advice on how to minimise the burn, Claire had thousands of positive responses including one mum who had read it just days before her child did the same thing.
The accident happened when the 33-year-old had just made a fresh cup of tea, removed the tea bag and put in the milk, at their home in Horsham, West Sussex, last month.
Claire spotted the youngster grabbing the handle of her mug and shouted “William, no!”.
Startled William then pulled the cup towards himself, spilling hot tea over his upper body.
In the panic, Claire’s husband Edward picked William up and put him under cool running water in the kitchen sink.
She says Edward, who worked for Southern Water, saved the toddler from needing prolonged treatment such as a skin graft.
They then moved William to the shower and Claire held him under the water for what she said felt like an eternity, while Edward called the ambulance.
Paramedics arrived at the house within 10 minutes and 20 minutes later the family were on their way to East Surrey hospital.
Claire said: “William was always able to see and cite when things were ‘hot’ because we had taught him that you must be careful with anything that is hot, however, I don’t suppose you can expect a two-year-old to be able to rationalise what that actually means.
“So having just returned the milk to the fridge and turned around, I saw William reach up to the cup and clasp the handle. It was in fact me shouting ‘William, no!’ that startled him and caused the cup to fall over.
“My husband has worked for Southern Water for over 15 years, so health and safety and first aid have been an enormous part of his job.
“He immediately picked William up and put him under cool running water in our kitchen sink. I had gone completely blank with panic and shock at this stage and was nothing short of useless – all I could do was hold William’s face and tell him it was going to be OK.
“Luckily, because we took all the right steps, more specifically we kept William under the cool water for as long as we did, the burn had caused damage, but none too advanced, and they referred us to the paediatric burns unit at Queen Victoria in East Grinstead.”
After the accident, the mum who took to Facebook and her post offering advice on what to do in a similar situation went viral.
The post has so far had 16,000 reactions, 9,000 comments and 74,000 shares.
Claire said: “I wanted to share William’s story, because while I felt incredible shame and guilt, I knew this was a genuine accident that happened to someone who is a good parent.
“Which means there will be hundreds of other parents out there doing a wonderful job every day, but that are just as susceptible to these accidents, and that may, like me, not know what to do if this situation arises for them.
“The post has had huge reception, with many thanking me for sharing and confirming that they had no idea what to do in that situation.
“In fact, a mother emailed me last week saying that she was so grateful to have seen my post as within days the same happened to her child, and she therefore knew what to do.
“That for me, proved that I did the right thing in sharing. I’m so grateful to have been able to help her and her daughter.”
Claire said: “The hospital praised my husband for his actions, and said that this had saved William from possible considerable prolonged pain and treatment, such as skin grafts. But that he would in fact, be healed up within a couple of weeks.
“They stated that injuries such as Williams were incredibly common – I believe there is a statistic stating 30 hot drink scalds in children admitted to hospital per day – and they saw them more often than they would like too, but knowing that children are curious and quick, it was somewhat inevitable.
“But what caused them the most dismay was how few of the parents that came in had any knowledge of how to apply first aid to a child that had experienced a burn or a scald.
“Many would head straight to A&E, without realising that this leaves the skin to continue to burn for example.”
Unfortunately, a few days after returning home from A&E, the family needed to return.
William was showing signs of a fever and a rash, which staff at Queen Victoria Hospital had advised them to look out for.
They took him back to hospital where he was treated for five days for suspected mild toxic shock.
Claire said: “Burns, unfortunately, are not always straightforward, and the resulting shock can be far more dangerous.
“It was sitting in hospital that the guilt and horror really set in for me. Seeing William so terrified and in pain, and having to bring my child in to hospital because of my mistake was just awful.
“As a mother, my whole remit is to protect and care for my child, and that is what I have done around the clock from the moment he was born – so I felt ashamed that I had let him down, and like I’d done anything but.
“It was made 10 times worse by the fact that I hadn’t known exactly what to do when it did happen. I’ll be forever grateful that my husband was so on the ball.
“The steps I have shared are specific to scalds and surface burns such as touching a very hot object, naturally in other instances involving fire or substances there will be other steps to take – so I would urge parents to undertake a paediatric first aid course to give them the knowledge and confidence to treat their children in whatever situation arises.
“This is top of my ‘to do’ list myself once lockdown is lifted.”
William will suffer no lasting damage as Claire and Edward will have to massage the burn site each day.
Claire said: “His skin is healing beautifully and he is unlikely to scar.
“Though following a burn the skin becomes highly sensitive to UV, so William will be spending his summer outdoors in a rash vest.”