"First aid training is such an obvious thing to do - but we don’t make time to do it"
Last updated 17 September 2020
When William burned himself earlier this year, his father's first aid skills prevented a scary situation becoming much worse. Now William's parents want to encourage others to learn first aid
As Claire and Edward from Sussex learned earlier this year, a split second is all it takes.
When their two-year-old son William poured scalding tea onto himself one morning in May, they acted quickly. In fact, Edward’s first aid skills saved William from needing months of painful treatment and skin grafts.
"It was my first cup of tea of the day,” recalled Claire. “It’s no exaggeration to say that all it took was enough time to put the milk back in the fridge. Then it happened. I froze but Edward knew what to do.
Cooling the burn
Instantly, Edward put William in the kitchen sink, running cool water over the burn. William’s t-shirt had been soaked to his skin by the boiling hot liquid and Edward – who has done first aid training at work – knew he needed to wait until the material had cooled down before removing it.
“The skin was literally peeling off William’s body and going down the sink,” said Claire. “It was horrendous.”
The couple transferred William upstairs and into the shower while they waited for an ambulance to arrive.
“I spent 25 minutes in the shower with William, and that was the worst part for him because he just didn’t understand what was happening,” said Claire. “But the hospital said that was the critical part for us – we had kept William’s burn under the cool water.”
After the accident, a post by Claire went viral on Facebook. In the post, she detailed what had happened to William, before going on to offer first aid tips for hot water burns. So far, it has been shared more than 77,000 times and has received almost 10,000 comments.
“I’ve got three or four messages in my inbox from parents whose children went through the same thing in the weeks following William’s accident, and having read my post they knew what to do – one woman was messaging me from A&E with her daughter,” said Claire.
Now, she wants to encourage parents to get first aid training or download the First Aid by British Red Cross apps (one is for first aid on babies and children).
“Hindsight makes me realise how easy it is to have these accidents, said Claire. “I felt I let William down, because I didn’t know what to do. If I’d have had an app that would have helped enormously, and if I’d had formal first aid training that would have been even better.”
William has since made a full recovery and Claire, who was six weeks pregnant at the time of the accident, said: "Talking about it now makes me feel so impassioned because getting first aid training is such an obvious thing to do, but we don’t make time to do it, and you regret it so much when something like this happens.”
Find out further information, and how to download our first aid and first aid for baby and children app.
The British Red Cross advises that if someone has suffered from a burn, to hold it under cool running water for at least 10 minutes and to remove any jewellery or tight clothing if possible. After 10 minutes, if the burn is still painful, cooling can continue for a further 10 minutes.
When the burn is cooled, cover it with a clean plastic bag or cling film it to keep it clean. If the burn is severe, it may need urgent medical treatment – if in doubt, seek medical advice and always seek medical advice for a baby or child who has been burned.
Emergencies in the UK
We respond to an emergency in the UK every four hours. People are at the heart of what we do. If you’re inspired by what you’re reading on Stories, please consider donating to make sure we’re ready to spring into action.Donate