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A rise in burn injuries may have been triggered by the cost of living crisis as people tried cheaper ways to keep warm, plastic surgeons claim.
Researchers collected data from emergency departments in the east of Scotland between September 2022 and March 2023 – when heating costs soared.
They found that hot water burns increased by 400 percent, while other scald injuries increased by 97 percent. Heaters causing contact burns also increased by more than 200 percent.
Liusaidh McClymont, one of the study authors and a consultant plastic surgeon at NHS Tayside, said: “There were significantly more cases of burns and scalds in our department compared to the previous winter.”
Researchers collected data from emergency departments in the east of Scotland between September 2022 and March 2023 – when heating costs soared
They found that hot water burns increased by 400 percent, while other scald injuries increased by 97 percent
She will present the findings at the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons annual conference later this year, suggesting that the cost of living crisis may have led people to switch to alternative heating methods for their homes.
“We are concerned that rising bills may have led to more people using alternative heating methods.” “For example, hot water bottles or portable electric heaters,” explains Ms McClymont. “Hot water bottles have an expiry date and if used for more than three years they may leak and cause scalding.” Over time, the rubber deteriorates.
“Electric heaters can also get very hot and can cause contact burns if handled improperly.”
The study found that patients were scalded while filling the bottle, unscrewing the cap, or bursting the bottle – which can happen when it is overfilled or while sitting.
The manufacturing date is often stamped in a small “daisy wheel” on the bottle, but many people are unaware of this, researchers say.
The social media-driven trend of cooking meals such as omelettes and pasta in a kettle may also have been the reason for the rise in injuries resulting from burning hot food coming into contact with the skin.
Ms McClymont added: “It is important that people are aware of the safety issues when it comes to heating homes and cooking meals.” Contact burns can be minimized by avoiding the use of heaters after consuming alcohol .
“In addition, people with diabetes who have lost feeling in their feet should be educated about the safe use of heaters, as they may not realize they are sustaining injuries.”