Hove fire expert has hot idea

Posted On 23 Jun 2011 at 6:39 pm

A Hove fire safety adviser’s life-saving idea is about to be shared across East Sussex.

Karen Calnan, a community safety adviser in Hove, painted life-like scalding injuries on a doll.

Her idea was a response to the growing number of under-fives who are suffering from scalding.

Ms Calnan uses the doll in her work for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service as she explains dangers in the home.

She said: “I painted the doll myself.

“As we work as community safety advisers we are aware of safety advice surrounding burns and scalds.

“We also know there is an increasing number of scalding injuries with under-fives.

“These are caused for a number or reasons, including by hot drinks, hair straighteners and at bath time.


“The reason I went for the doll is because you can use graphic pictures but people can often shy away from these.

“However, with the doll, people will look at it and talk about it.

“I have been taking the doll to children’s centres and different groups to discuss with parents ways to prevent burns and scalds to crawlers and toddlers.

“I explain how to prevent accidents in the home and what to do if an accident does happen.

“Hot drinks are still the biggest problem and it is imperative to make sure you keep them away from children.

“Do not sit children on a kitchen worktop and do not hold a hot drink while holding a baby.

“Even after 15 minutes of making a cup tea it can still scald a child.”

Ms Calnan took professional advice from the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, which is known for its work with burns patients.

And she received positive feedback from a mother who heard one of her talks at the Fairlight Children’s Centre in Brighton.


Ms Calnan said: “A few days later a mum called me to say she was having a coffee in a shop when a cafetiere full of hot coffee was knocked over a two-year-old.

“The mum took her straight into the kitchen and placed her in the sink and ran water over her for 20 minutes and then took her to A&E.

“Medical staff told her that due to good first aid there would be no permanent scarring. The mum told Karen that if she hadn’t attended the talk at the Fairlight Children’s Centre she would never have known to do this and was eternally grateful.

Keith Ring, the Brighton and Hove Borough Commander, praised Ms Calnan’s work.

He said: “East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s main aim is to make the community of East Sussex and Brighton and Hove as safe as possible.

“We are always looking at ways to achieve this and strongly encourage our staff to identify and develop ideas to assist in taking this forward.

“Karen’s work on the doll is a first class example of taking a simple idea and using it to make a difference.”

Ms Calnan’s safety advice includes the following tips and information

  • Run tepid water over a burn, not ice cold water which can add to the shock.
  • It takes up to 20 minutes to ensure the heat is taken out of the tissues.
  • If you don’t take the heat out from the skin it continues to heat up and cause damage.
  • If the area of the injury is larger than a 50p coin then get the child to A&E.
  • If the injury is over a large area, cover it loosely with cling film. Do not place any cream on it.


Karen Calnan with Borough Commander Keith Ring

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