Health Stories

Mum’s warning after toddler scalded by tea

Little Lily has been left with scars from her burns

Andrea Stuart, 43, got a phone call every parent dreads. Her daughter Lily had been rushed to hospital after she was scalded by a hot cup of tea. Here she shares her warning in her own words.

Outgoing and confident, my beautiful baby Lily had a smile for everyone.

At 18 months old, she’d run around after her brothers, Thomas, 10, and River, three.

Then one day I left her at Mum’s so I could take River, who is on the autism spectrum, to a workshop. 

There, my phone rang. It was a nurse from the hospital.

‘We have Lily here,’ she said. ‘There was an incident involving a cup of tea.’

Rushing to Emergency, I heard her screams as I arrived. 

To my horror, she was so badly scalded her skin was peeling off. 

Nurses were pouring water over her as she wailed in agony.

Lily scalded by tea
Lily was rushed to hospital (Credit: Supplied)

‘She has burns to 40 per cent of her body,’ a doctor said.

‘Not my Lily,’ I sobbed. 

I learned she’d grabbed a piping hot cup of black tea that my step-father had put down, and it had gone all over her. 

With first and second degree burns, Lily was flown to Perth’s Children’s Hospital 500km away where she had two lots of skin grafts. 

She had so many dressings she could barely move. 

‘My poor baby,’ I wept, but I couldn’t even give her a cuddle.

A month later, I took her home in a compression suit. Every second day I’d take her to the burns clinic to have dressings changed. 

‘I’m burnt, Mummy,’ she’d sob.

‘I know, darling,’ I’d say, feeling terrible.

Lily scalded
Little Lily suffered 40 per cent burns (Credit: Supplied)

Five months on, Lily is still in pain. 

I apply silicon gel to her scars and massage Sorbolene into her skin, but she screams in agony whenever I touch any part of her that’s burnt. 

Her movement is becoming more restricted because of her injuries and she can’t use her right arm any more. 

Her speech has gone backwards due to the trauma, and she’s much more timid.

‘Empty?’ she’ll ask nervously when she sees anyone holding a cup.

Now, we’re looking at moving to Perth where Lily can have laser therapy to treat her pain and inflammation. 

I’m telling my story to warn others never to leave hot drinks near children. 

Accidents happen so quickly, but the repercussions last a lifetime.

Lily scalded
Andrea is speaking out to warn other families (Credit: Supplied)

How to treat a scald

• Almost 80 per cent of burns and scalds to young children occur at home.

• Hot drinks should be kept away from table or bench edges.

• Liquid at 60 degrees takes only a second to cause a third-degree burn to a child.

• If a burn happens, apply cool running water to the area for a minimum of 20 minutes and seek immediate medical help.

Visit the NHS website for more advice on how to treat burns and scalds

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