Every year around 800 fires occur in Austrian homes during the festive season and 600 children end up in hospital.
The younger the victim, the more dangerous burns can be. Even a spilt mug of hot cocoa or tea can cause 30 percent burns for very small children – and 15 percent burns can be life threatening for them.
4,100 children under the age of 15 are burnt or scalded every year in Austria, and November and December are particularly bad months, with around 11 children scalded every day.
The main dangers are open flames and candles, the Austrian Road Safety Board (KFV) said. Director Othmar Thann said that although parents are careful to keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children, less than 50 percent have spoken about the risk of fires with their offspring.
The KFV and insurance specialists VVO are recommending that parents install smoke alarms in their children’s bedrooms. Only one in three households have currently done this – a simple measure which could potentially save lives. Only one in two households has a fire extinguisher.
Burns expert Lars-Peter Kamolz said that a smoke alarm is a must and that children's’ skin is especially sensitive to burns, which could leave disfiguring scars and lifelong psychological problems.