Miss 6 and the Green Tea episode

Updated: Jan 27, 2020

School holidays means a major break in routine for our family. Evening swims at the beach after dinner, non existent bedtime routine, and meals everywhere and anywhere.

Last night was our last night with the grandparents in Coffs Harbour, so off to the local Chinese for dinner we went. As always the meal is accompanied by Green Tea which is always super hot on arrival. Knowing this it was kept on the side of the table away from my curious 6 year old daughter's hands.

My very independent second child (Miss 6) is actually a huge fan of tea so enthusiastically requested a cup for herself. Of course I insisted she wait until it had cooled down before I gave her any.

A really lovely meal ensued and sticky slippery hands were the result of some yummy spring rolls. Enjoying my own meal my daughter's slippery hands were not obvious to me. So after asking if it was ok Miss 6 went to drink her Green Tea with gusto. The unfortunate result was the cup slipping in these slippery hands and a completely accidental spill of tea onto the table and also onto my elder daughter‘s arm.

The tea had been sitting in her cup for a good 10 minutes and had been brewed for at least 15 minutes before that. Despite these 25 minutes the liquid was still hot enough to cause a small scald on her big sister’s elbow. This fact is one parents I teach are often unaware of.

Did you know that hot drinks like tea and coffee left to sit for 10 minutes that feel tepid to adult touch, are still hot enough to cause serious burns in a young child’s skin?

So back to the restaurant situation. Immediately I knew first aid was required. Straight to the bathroom we went to start applying cool running water for 20 minutes. This is the recommended treatment for burns and scalds. I‘m lucky to know this because of my nursing education and my work as a First Aid and CPR trainer. Being my children both my girls of course knew what to do too.

The point of this post is actually about what happened next. It’s about what first aid the kind staff at the restaurant offered to my daughter. They were quite obviously very concerned and wanted to help, which of course was absolutely appreciated. They kindly offered burn cream, and multiple staff members suggested ice.

Would you have said the same? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. Many people in my classes have been surprised when I explain that ice is definitely not the right thing to apply to a burn. The reason for this is that it is too cold, and actually makes the situation worse. The only thing we should apply immediately is cool running tap water.

Doing what I do, teaching my My Baby Basics classes, I had to make this a teaching moment. I declined the cream and the ice, and explained that the recommended and most effective treatment is 20 minutes of cool running tap water. The staff were surprised to hear this but took it on board. I was glad to be able to educate them given the high risk of burns working in a restaurant.

So now it’s 24 hours later and my daughter has recovered completely. Today there isn’t even a mark on her elbow where the tea scalded her. I reflected on this and thought just how often in my career as a nurse I have encountered people giving inappropriate first aid to burns. Purely because they didn’t know any better. Most often having not done any recent first aid training to update their knowledge.

This little moment in our holiday served to remind me why I do what I do, why I have been, am and will always be passionate about spreading the lifesaving skills of first aid and CPR as far and wide as I can.

If you already knew that 20 minutes of cool running water is what this situation needed, well done you!! If you were one of the many people out there who thought ice, or burn cream, or butter are good first aid for burns then please make it one of your 2019 to do's and take the time to update your skills with a First Aid and CPR class

20 minutes of cool running tap water


Find a provider near you and become empowered with updated lifesaving knowledge. You’ll never regret it. I truly believe that everyone should know what to do and how to provide first aid in an emergency situation. As a community we can only serve to benefit if we all take the time to become empowered with this knowledge.

Thanks for reading!!


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