Kids are not great at eating. They make messes and miss their mouths, and knock full cups and plates off the table. It’s sometimes funny, but it’s less funny when the food is hot and burns a kid bad enough to send them to the emergency room. And that happens a lot—nearly half of serious burns to children every year are scald burns from spilled foods and drinks.
Instant soup is particularly dangerous, according to data presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics annual meeting this week. Nearly 10,000 children between the ages of 4 and 12 go to U.S. emergency rooms with scald burns from instant soup and noodles each year. That’s two out of every 10 scald burns that are serious enough to require medical attention.
The most commonly burned area was the torso, so these kids are probably knocking the soup containers toward themselves and spilling the hot liquid on their stomachs and laps.
Kids are not dying from these soup-related injuries, thankfully. According to the study results, 90 percent of the kids were actually discharged directly from the emergency department. Only 6 percent were actually admitted to the hospital.
A 2008 study of scald burns from instant soup found that most scald burns were caused by soups that come in a tall container with a narrow base, like a Cup O’ Noodles. That makes sense because—according to a 2006 study of design flaws in instant soup containers—tall and narrow cups can more easily be tipped over.
The researchers behind the AAP presentation used data collected between 2006 and 2016 by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which collects data on injuries caused by consumer products that sent people to emergency rooms. The reporting system uses that sample data to calculate the likely total number of injuries related to certain products in the U.S.
The annual reports from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System are actually an enlightening (if disturbing) read. Some statistics from 2017:
- There were nearly 150,000 injuries caused by trampolines (which is probably validating to my mother, who got mad when I went on my neighbor’s trampoline as a kid).
- Lawn mowers injured just under 90,000 people, and chainsaws injured about 30,000.
- Just over 60,000 people were injured by soap and detergent in 2017. That number has increased over the past few years (there were 55,000 injuries in 2016 and 50,000 injuries in 2015), and I blame the Tide pod challenge.
- Kids under the age of 1 were most likely to be injured by stairs, ramps, landings, and floors. Teens and adults between the ages of 15 and 34 were also most likely to be injured by stairs, ramps, landings, and floors. Kids between 10 and 14, though, were most likely to be injured by basketball.