July 15, 2024

Doctors and nurses have issued a burn warning for Australians using hot water bottles this winter.

Warning: This story contains images and details that some readers may find distressing.

Melbourne mum Vanessa Pouthier continues to recover from severe burns she received when a hot-water bottle split on her lap in April.

“I just lay down on my sofa with the water bottle where I usually put it on my lap, and 15 seconds later it exploded. It literally split up at the bottom,” she told 9News.

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The Melbourne health academic’s husband and daughter called paramedics while she followed first aid in the shower. 

She said the burst bottle left her in “In extreme pain, pain I’ve never known before”.

At The Alfred, Australia’s leading burns hospital, Pouthier had two surgeries, skin grafts and spent time in ICU and is still recovering. 

“I knew throughout my stay at the hospital I was in very good hands, and I felt very well cared for,” she said.

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Burns clinical nurse Mel Neely says Alfred Health treats at least 50 patients every year for hot water bottle burns.

“We often see people that are admitted to hospital for weeks, require multiple surgeries and grafting and lead them to permanent risk of scarring,” Neely said.

To reduce the risk of injury from a hot water bottle, users should fill it with hot water instead of boiling water.

Users are warned to avoid direct skin contact and to avoid leaning, rolling, or pressing against the bottle.

They’ve warned that bottles can split and burst, leaving horrific injuries.

“Hot water bottles do have an expiry date and they should be changed annually,” Pouthier said.

“We recommend that people don’t use hot water bottles, that they use heat bags instead,” Neely warned.

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