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Boy, four, scalds his thighs by knocking over a cup of boiling tea

A four-year-old boy whose skin was ripped off by a scalding cup of spilt tea has escaped without any scarring due to his father’s quick thinking.

Scott Gray, from Berkshire, had moments earlier brewed himself the drink and planted it on the edge of a nearby surface so that he could play with his sons Archie and Freddie, two.

But their fun turned into horror when Archie accidentally nudged the table, sending the boiling liquid inside the mug lashing down on to his own legs.

Mr Gray said: ‘I pulled his trousers and his skin came off too. It was horrendous. It happened so fast. It was only on him for one or two seconds.’

Four-year-old Archie Gray’s skin was ripped off by a scalding cup of spilt tea, but luckily he escaped without needing a graft. The youngster puts on a brave smile after returning home from hospital

As the tea continued to burn the boy’s flesh, Mr Gray snatched up his son and rushed to the bath where he soaked Archie’s injury in cold water.

An ambulance was scrambled and Archie was taken to the specialist burns unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury. 

He was treated by Dr Mike Tyler who briefed Mr Gray that his son, who had scalded five per cent of is body, may require a skin graft and bear lifelong scars.

But thanks to Mr Gray’s first aid and the work of Dr Taylor – now known by Archie as Batman for his heroic efforts – a skin graft was dodged and the burn marks have not been permanently etched on to his body.

Mr Gray said: I’ve done first aid training, but nothing specifically related to burns, I just used my head and thought that if cold water works for a burnt finger or hand, then it must work for legs also – at the time I didn’t know for sure I was taking the right action.’

Archie’s traumatic experience is now being promoted to promote awareness of child beverage-related burns, which account for half of all the NHS’ 35,000 admissions to the burns unit in the last five years.

Almost 900 accidents last year, which caused extreme harm in under two-year-olds, could be avoided if a hot drink spillage was prevented, figures show

Almost 900 accidents last year, which caused extreme harm in under two-year-olds, could be avoided if a hot drink spillage was prevented, figures show

It comes as NHS figures reveal 35,000 under-16s in England and Wales have needed specialist care for burns in the past five years. 

The Royal College of Surgeons and the British Burns Association have now issued a warning over the dangers of hot drinks.

They have both urged parents to keep hot drinks away from the edges of tables and worktops, where they can be reached by children. 

And the bodies, which analysed the data, said cups of tea can still scald children 15 minutes after they have been made.


Plastic surgeons from the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS) and the British Burn Association have offered aid advice for a burn.

To prevent burns from happening in the home DO:

  • Run cold water first in the bath or sink before adding hot water – test the temperature.
  • Keep saucepans at the back of the stove not near the front – turn handles to the back.
  • Keep hot drinks out of a child’s reach. 


  • Drink hot drinks while nursing a baby or child
  • Put a baby or child into a bath or sink until the water has been tested
  • Warm baby bottles in microwaves. 
  • Leave children unattended in the kitchen. 

Both the RCS and the BBA are backing a SafeTea campaign to prevent serious scalds from boiling mugs of tea or coffee.  

They warned children can face years of ‘gruelling’ operations after suffering burns that are entirely preventable.   

Andrew Williams, a consultant plastic surgeon at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, who specialises in burns, said: ‘Burn injuries are common and potentially devastating. Tragically they occur too often.

‘All it takes is for a small child to pull a kettle cord, or knock a cup of tea over, and they can be scarred for life.

‘Every second counts when it comes to treating a new burn, so it is vital that parents know basic first aid – especially the importance of running scalded skin under cold water, for example.’ 

Mr Fadi Issa, a consultant plastic surgeon at Stoke Mandeville Hospital said: ‘Our advice is simple: 15-20-25. 

‘Run the scalded or burned skin under water at 15°C for 20 minutes – and you could reduce the depth of a burn by up to 25 per cent.

‘This treatment can convert a deep burn needing surgery to one that just needs simple dressings to heal. 

‘The other key information is not to put any lotions or potions on a cooled burn. Cover it in cling film and seek urgent medical assistance.’