Researchers to parents: Electrical cords can burn children’s mouths

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Columbia, MO – Parents with young children should be aware of the potential for burns to the mouth caused by electrical cords, University of Missouri School of Health researchers caution in a recent study.

Using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, researchers looked at 1,042 oral electrical burn injuries reported in emergency rooms from 1997 to 2012. They found that children 5 and younger accounted for nearly 75 percent of the ER visits.

Children can sustain an oral electrical burn injury if they mouth the end of or bite through an electrical cord, according to Dr. David Chang, study co-author and associate professor of otolaryngology.

“In 1974, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated 1,000 injuries associated with extension or appliance cord burns in a single year,” Chang said in a Dec. 19 press release. “Our study found that these injuries have decreased drastically to about 65 injuries a year. However, even one injury is too many when it can be prevented.”

Tips to help prevent oral electrical burns among children include:

  • Installing tamper-resistant outlets or outlet covers
  • Inspecting cords for damage before use
  • Checking for damaged sockets or loose wires
  • Not using cords that are hot to the touch or covering cords with rugs
  • Closely monitoring children or pets near outlets and cords

The study was published in April in the journal Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.

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