New research highlights hot water bottle dangers

Patient Brenda Smith with Quentin Frew, Visiting Clinical Fellow at Anglia Ruskin Credit: Anglia Ruskin

Burns experts have carried out new research revealing just how dangerous hot water bottles can be.A study by doctors at Anglia Ruskin University and the world-renowned St Andrew's burns unit in Chelmsford found half of all injuries were caused by hot water bottles bursting.They're warning people to make sure they use bottles properly, and not buy cheap products off the internet.

The study examined the case notes of 50 patients with burns resulting from hot water bottle use from between January 2004 and February 2012. In eight of the cases there was some degree of patient misuse, such as sitting or stepping on the bottle. In the remaining 17 cases there was no clear evidence of misuse and the bottle appeared to have burst spontaneously.Accidental spilling of hot water while filling a hot water bottle accounted for 32% of injuries, with the remaining 18% due to contact with an excessively hot surface.The research found that 80% of the injuries occurred between October and February, and the majority of burns were scald injuries, with the commonest sites being the abdomen and lower limbs. The mean time taken for the burns to heal was 25.34 days and in the most serious cases two children required skin grafts and one patient needed local flap coverage (an area of skin, raised with its own blood supply, used to cover a defect).

Mrs Brenda Smith from Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex is currently receiving treatment from the St Andrew's Centre for Plastic Surgery and Burns at Broomfield hospital in Chelmsford, following a burns injury caused by a hot water bottle.

Burn injuries resulting from hot water bottle use is authored by Dr Shehab Jabir, Quentin Frew and Professor Peter Dziewulski of the St Andrew's Anglia Ruskin (StAAR) Research Unit.

StAAR is a partnership between Anglia Ruskin University and the world-renowned St Andrew's Centre for Plastic Surgery and Burns based at Mid Essex Hospitals Trust.