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"Safe-Tea" Campaign

The Safe-Tea Campaign is a novel public health intervention aimed at reducing the incidence and severity of hot drink scalds in children under four years old.

Despite growing evidence that most burns are preventable, an estimated 25,000 children present to emergency departments in England and Wales every year with a burn or scald injury. Children living in socially and economically disadvantaged areas are at higher than average risk of sustaining a life-changing burn injury. Where parents lack knowledge of appropriate burns first aid, the severity of these burns is compounded.

Following public involvement, expert clinical advice and input from Cardiff Flying Start staff, a varied suite of novel multi-media materials was developed. These included child ‘reach-chart’ posters, fridge-magnets and flyers, and a suite of four short videos for social media: a patient story, cutting edge thermal imaging footage, first aid advice and a cartoon.

More than 100 staff from the Flying Start programme, which works with the families of children under four living in disadvantaged communities, took part in half-day interactive training sessions covering information on hot drink scald epidemiology, prevention and first aid.

These staff delivered the scald prevention message at babies' 6-month and 7-month health visits, and in playgroup and childcare settings. The materials supported important one-to-one and group discussions, dynamic demonstrations, and group activities to generate conversation and experience-sharing.

Over 300 parents of pre-school children living in the most deprived areas of Cardiff and over 100 Flying Start health and parenting staff were involved in the project.


Parents completed pre- and post-intervention questionnaires. These showed:

  • an increase in parents’ knowledge of the risks and dangers of hot drink scalds to small children
  • a considerable increase in parents’ knowledge of effective burns first aid, particularly with respect to the 20-minute recommended cooling time, and that you should cover a burn with cling-film.

Focus group discussions revealed that the intervention improved understanding of the likelihood and severity of injury to children, which increased vigilance post-intervention. Parents also felt more confident to correct behaviours of others at home, and relayed first aid messages to family, in the UK and beyond.

The intervention increased Flying Start staff’s understanding of appropriate first aid, and provided them with tools to deliver prevention and first aid messages.

What next?

As a feasibility study, this Pilot Engagement Project has been a vital step towards the development of a robust, evidence-based model for behaviour change, which could effectively and efficiently reduce the incidence and severity of burn and scald injuries in communities across the UK.

The project team have been invited to present their research to the British Burns Association, and are applying for funding to test the effectiveness of the Safe-Tea intervention in Flying Start communities across Wales. Work investigating the applicability of the intervention delivery model and the acceptability of the materials to diverse communities across the UK is currently underway. This includes work with children's centres in East London, and with community and public health professionals in Bristol.

The team are also working with a production company to design a mass media prevention campaign. This will be informed by feedback from films developed for this project.


The campaign was designed by the Children’s Burns Research Centre, and funded by the Scar Free Foundation, Health and Care Research Wales, and Cardiff University’s City Region Exchange.

For further information contact Verity Bennett or Professor Alison Kemp.

Professor Alison Kemp

Professor Alison Kemp

Emeritus Professor

+44 (0)29 2068 7150