Safety Before Beauty

Curious, impulsive, inquisitive children deserve extra vigilance

Another preschooler was burned with a curling iron yesterday. She was at a friend’s house, and the friend found a “professional” curling iron plugged in on a dressing table in her parent’s bedroom. They were curling each other’s hair just like they had seen in a movie, when suddenly, her friend’s hand slipped and she got a horrible, disfiguring burn on her forehead.

Charlize Theron demonstrates safe use of curling iron

Charlize Theron demonstrates safe use of curling iron

Her parents were beside themselves. How could her friend’s parents not know what the children were doing? They were home at the time. Didn’t they know the curling iron was plugged in, laying right out in the open?

These burns don’t have to happen. Accidental burns are inevitable when parents are less than 100% careful with their curling irons, some of which reach temperatures of 500 degrees. Moms forget to unplug them and leave them out in the open where kids’ curiosity can lead to accidents. Most curling irons are not kept where children cannot access them—simply stored in the bottom of a messy drawer.

This is dangerously naïve. Kids with ADHD have unlimited curiosity. They explore everywhere. They’ll play with matches, lighters, candles, propane torches and magnifying glasses on sunny days–any burn source that is not locked up. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell them not to go in your closets, they will sneak in there. In fact, the more you tell them not to go somewhere, the more likely they are to go precisely there, the second you lose sight of them.

Children with ADHD are more likely to be burned accidentally than playmates without it. I talk with the parents of children with ADHD about burn prevention, and I hear some frankly dismissive responses. “She knows to stay away from my curling iron. It’s in a cabinet where she won’t see it.” I advise them to put a lock on the curling iron drawer. Some do. Most won’t.

Statistics on preventable burns are hard to collect, since many states don’t keep accurate records. The CDC estimates that there are over 30,000 burns from curling irons in the US every year. Critics point out that many of them are from adults burning themselves.

500 degrees. Please store safely!

500 degrees. Please store safely!

There is one last thing I need to clear up. I said ‘burns’ but actually meant ‘deaths’. And I said ‘curling irons’ but actually meant ‘guns’.

I’m intentionally limiting this discussion to children’s safety. The National ‘Curling Iron’ Association—and even some parents—object to anything that infringes on a woman’s right to be beautiful.  I believe there is a reasonable middle ground. A doctor can  be pro-safety without being anti-beauty.

Physician specializing in diagnosis and management of attention deficit disorders and related conditions.

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Posted in ADHD, children, parenting
2 comments on “Safety Before Beauty
  1. Nupur Choudhary says:

    Hi Dr. Mason, Thanks so much for all the help that you are doing for people like who couldn’t hold down a job even after getting a master’s degree. I clearly remember while I was in elementary school, I used have a broken hand or leg every summer. I grew up in India and my mom had strict rules for girls, but somehow used to define all that. My father is an ex-army and we used to be have very disciplined environment at home. I think may be that attributed to finishing my masters. As soon as I got married and came to US, I got more freedom and somehow the chaos got out of hand over the years. After so many failed attempts to find that “one perfect career” I went to see my Primary care physician. By that time, I have seen some of your videos on YouTube. When I told her that I suspect that I might have ADD, she said if you have finished your masters then there is no chance that you can have it. But I persisted and told her about you. Eventually I got to see my psychiatrist. It’s only 6 months since then, I have lost 15 pounds, do exercise 3 times a week, not late for appointments and have finally finished first part of my teaching credential exam. I finally understand how it feels to be relaxed. I was stay at home mom for last 15 years and always frazzled. Now I have a part-time job and working on my credential. I truly owe my life to you. By sharing you own ADD, you gave me strength and knowledge to ask for help. I wish you all the luck and good health!! Today I discovered your blog. I’ll be following you and try to gain as much as I can. Thank you so much for being a beacon for all of us lost souls of ADD. I am an atheist, but for you I can pray long and hard. May you always gain new heights in you career and life. Keep shining Doc!! Keep shining!! Lots of love and regards!!
    – Nupur


  2. Becky Bell says:

    Love this, Dr. Mason!!!


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Oren Mason MD
Oren Mason MD

Oren Mason MD

Physician specializing in diagnosis and management of attention deficit disorders and related conditions.

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