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Hair straighteners: Belfast hospital warns of children's injuries

image captionParents are being advised to take care when using straighteners around children.

Nine per cent of children admitted to hospital in Belfast with burns were injured by hair straighteners.

Seventeen children aged between three months and nine years attended the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children in 2009-2010.

Horrific burn injuries can occur very quickly to children because their skin can be 15 times thinner than adults.

Hair straighteners can reach temperatures in excess of 200 degrees.

They can also take up to 40 minutes to cool down.

The average age of children admitted with hair straightener burns was 18 months.

The most common part of a child's body to sustain a serious hair straightener burn is their hand, but children's heads, arms and feet have also been injured.

Nicola Vance, a young mum from Belfast, said her seven month old toddler, Alfie, was badly burned by hair straighteners.

"I was getting ready in the morning and I was straightening my hair, Alfie was seven-months-old so he was sitting up on the bed.

"Alfie has just learned to shuffle so he was moving along the bed, he caught himself in the sheets and just fell forward onto the straighteners.

"The middle of his eyebrows was all red and his skin had melted.

image captionHealth officials say straighteners can take up to 40 minutes to cool

"I just cried my eyes out. They said because it was so hot that if I hadn't been there, the straighteners would have stuck to his head and peeled off his forehead.

"I was thinking how lucky my child has been but he still might need plastic surgery on his face. He is scarred for life but very, very lucky."

Dr Julie-Ann Maney, consultant in paediatric emergency medicine at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, said: "Hair straightener burns are preventable. We hope to highlight how dangerous these devices are, particularly to small children and that the public need to be aware of the horrific injuries that can be sustained."

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