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

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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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