The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is warning consumers about the rising number of child injuries due to hairstyling products. Hairstyling products, such as curling irons or straighteners pose a particular risk of injury to young children due to the intense heat these products emit.
The use of heat styling tools such as hairdryers, straighteners, and curling irons has surged, even among younger consumers. While these tools offer convenience and the allure of glamorous hairstyles, parents need to be aware of the hidden dangers associated with these products. Even if a heat-styling product has warnings or safety features, they may not be adequate to prevent child injuries.
In the sections below, the children’s product liability lawyers at Kherkher Garcia explain the alarming data gathered by the AAP. We will also discuss the hazards of heat-styling products for children, as well as manufacturer responsibilities.
AAP Warning and Increasing Child Injuries
According to the AAP’s research, between 2013 and 2022, nearly 31,000 injuries were reported related to hairstyling products. Research shows the following breakdown of these incidents:
- More than 1,000 emergency room visits.
- 97% of injuries were burn injuries.
- 68% of hospitalizations involved children under 10.
- 65% of hospitalizations involved females.
Pediatricians are warning consumers of the risks of hairstyling products and child injuries that can be severe due to the nature of heat-styling products. They are warning parents, in particular, to talk to their children about the hazards of these products. Additionally, parents should ensure that any styling products are age-appropriate and are used with supervision.
The Risks of Heat Styling Products for Children
In the quest for style and beauty, the use of styling products has become a common practice not only for adults but also among children. Unfortunately, children do not always recognize the risk of burn injuries when using such products. Children, with their curious nature and developing motor skills, are particularly vulnerable to burn injuries caused by styling products such as curling irons, straighteners, and hairdryers.
One of the most prevalent causes of burn injuries among children is accidental contact with hot styling tools. Younger children, in particular, might mistake these devices for toys or objects of curiosity, leading to unintentional touches or grabs. This split-second contact with the scorching surface of a curling iron or straightener can result in painful burns, leaving lasting physical and emotional scars.
Moreover, children might not possess the dexterity or coordination required to handle these tools safely. Their developing motor skills can lead to slips, drops, or accidental falls while using or attempting to manipulate styling products, increasing the risk of burns significantly. These incidents can also pose a risk of fire if the styling product is dropped on flammable surfaces or clothing.
How Burn Injuries Affect Children
The severity of burn injuries caused by styling products can range from mild to severe, depending on various factors such as the temperature of the device, duration of contact, and the thickness of the skin. Burn injuries are classified into different degrees based on their severity, the depth of tissue damage, and the symptoms associated with each degree. Understanding these degrees is crucial in assessing the extent of injury and determining appropriate treatment.
- Description: First-degree burns are the mildest form of burns, affecting only the outer layer of the skin, known as the epidermis.
- Symptoms: These burns typically result in redness, minor swelling, and pain. The affected area may feel tender to the touch, and the skin may appear dry.
- Healing Time: Generally, first-degree burns heal within a few days to a week without causing permanent damage. They usually don’t require medical attention and can be treated with simple first aid, such as running cool water over the burn and applying aloe vera or a mild moisturizer.
- Description: Second-degree burns affect both the outer layer (epidermis) and the underlying layer (dermis) of the skin.
- Symptoms: These burns often result in redness, blistering, severe pain, swelling, and the appearance of moist, shiny skin. Blisters may develop and are filled with clear fluid.
- Healing Time: Healing for second-degree burns can take several weeks. Some may require medical attention, especially if they cover a large area of the body or are located on sensitive areas like the face, hands, feet, or groin. Proper wound care, including keeping the area clean, applying antibiotic ointment, and dressing changes, is necessary for optimal healing.
- Description: Third-degree burns are the most severe and penetrate through all layers of the skin, damaging tissues, nerves, and sometimes even bones and muscles.
- Symptoms: The affected area may appear white, charred, or leathery. Third-degree burns often result in numbness due to nerve damage and may not cause immediate pain because nerve endings are destroyed.
- Healing Time: Healing for third-degree burns is slow and may require specialized medical care, including skin grafting or surgery. These burns can lead to complications like infections and long-term scarring. Immediate medical attention is crucial in the case of third-degree burns.
It is important to note that burn severity can also be influenced by other factors, such as the cause of the burn (thermal, chemical, electrical, or radiation), the extent of the affected body surface area, and the age and overall health of the individual. Additionally, there are variations within these classifications, such as fourth-degree burns that extend into deeper tissues and can affect muscles, tendons, and bones.
The aftermath of a burn injury goes beyond the physical pain and trauma. Children might suffer emotionally and psychologically, experiencing fear, anxiety, or even developing a fear of styling products or similar objects. The recovery process from burns can be long and arduous, impacting a child’s daily routine, school life, and overall wellbeing.
What Can Parents do to Prevent Child Injuries from Styling Products?
As a parent or guardian, there are proactive steps you can take to mitigate the risks of styling product burn injuries among children. Some recommendations include:
- Education and Supervision: Educate children about the dangers of hot styling tools and the importance of handling them cautiously. Always supervise their use of such devices, especially for younger children.
- Safe Storage: Store styling products in a secure place, out of reach and sight of children. Ensure that these items are unplugged and cooled down after use.
- Cool-down Period: Teach children to recognize that styling tools remain hot even after they are turned off. Encourage waiting for sufficient cooling time before handling or storing them away.
- Protective Gear: Consider using protective gloves or sleeves designed to shield hands and arms from accidental burns while handling hot styling tools.
- Alternative Styling Methods: Introduce children to safer styling alternatives like no-heat hairstyles, braids, or accessories that don’t involve the use of hot tools.
- First Aid Awareness: Educate children about basic first aid measures for minor burns, such as running cool water over the affected area and applying a clean, damp cloth.
Preventing styling product burn injuries in children requires vigilance, education, and responsible supervision. By fostering awareness and implementing safety measures, parents can significantly reduce the risk of burn accidents and protect their children from harm.
Are Manufacturers Responsible for Warning Consumers about Hazards?
Manufacturers of heat styling products are required to provide warnings and safety guidelines regarding the potential risks associated with their use. These warnings are typically outlined in the product manuals, on packaging, or on the product itself. However, whether these warnings are considered adequate in effectively conveying the dangers to parents, particularly regarding children’s use, can be subjective and can vary among different manufacturers.
Manufacturer warnings often include warnings regarding the high temperatures these devices reach, the risk of burns if mishandled, the importance of keeping these tools out of reach of children, and the need for adult supervision when children are using these products.
Despite these warnings, there might still be room for improvement in several aspects:
- Clarity and Visibility: Manufacturers should ensure that safety warnings are prominently displayed, easily understandable, and clearly visible on the product packaging and in the user manual.
- Specificity Regarding Child Use: While warnings about keeping these products away from children are often included, more detailed guidelines specifically addressing the risks related to children’s use and the importance of adult supervision might be necessary.
- Updated Safety Features: Continual improvement of safety features in these products, such as automatic shut-off functions or heat-resistant materials, could also contribute to minimizing the risk of accidents, especially involving children.
- Collaboration with Regulatory Bodies: Collaborating with regulatory bodies and safety organizations to set standardized safety guidelines and recommendations could enhance the effectiveness of warnings and ensure a more uniform approach across the industry.
Overall, while manufacturers do often provide warnings, there might be ongoing opportunities for enhancement in terms of clarity, specificity, and the dissemination of information to further reduce the risk of child injuries from these products.
Get Help with Child Injuries from Consumer Products
As parents, we prioritize safety, educate children about hazards, and enforce strict safety measures to prevent accidents. Unfortunately, accidents can still happen. Child injuries related to heat-styling products may be due to inadequate warnings or safety features, lack of supervision, or the simple curiosity of a child.
In cases where the injuries are the result of design or manufacturing negligence, parents can benefit from the aid of a children’s product liability lawyer. When products are designed or manufactured in a dangerous or defective way, or when product warnings are not adequate to warn consumers, manufacturers and other parties may be held liable for child injuries. A product liability lawyer at Kherkher Garcia can help you determine if negligence was a factor in your child’s injuries, and if so, what your best options are to hold those responsible accountable.
If your child is suffering injuries due to a dangerous or defective product, contact Kherkher Garcia for a free consultation. Call us anytime at 713-333-1030, or complete our contact form to get started.
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