Hair straightener sales putting children at risk

31 January 2014

Hair straighteners - Turn them off. Put them away. Pass this on.

Electrical Safety Council calls for retailers and manufacturers to do more to protect children from burns following safety investigation 

  • The Electrical Safety Council calls for retailers and manufacturers to do more to protect children from burns following safety investigation
  • Investigation reveals retailers and manufacturers are selling hair straighteners without additional safety devices or information about preventing burns
  • Hair straightener burns among children have doubled in recent years and two thirds of parents don’t store appliances away safely
  • The Electrical Safety Council is giving away free heat proof pouches via its website

The Electrical Safety Council is calling for retailers and manufacturers to do more to protect children after an investigation found that the majority of stores sell heated hair appliances such as straighteners without providing additional safety devices or sufficient information on storing them safely.    

The investigation was conducted following concerns that the number of hair straightener burns among children has doubled in recent years[i] and now account for nearly 1 in ten burns[ii].  As the majority of these incidents are caused when toddlers touch, grab or tread on the hot hair straightener plates[iii] the Electrical Safety Council is campaigning for increased safety measures, as well as greater awareness among parents.

Hair straighteners can reach temperatures of 235°C and stay hot up to 15 minutes after they have been switched off, and so heat proof pouches are the best way to ensure that heated appliances are properly stored away from children. However, the Electrical Safety Council’s ‘mystery shopper’ investigation of leading high street and online retailers found that none of the outlets sampled encouraged shoppers to buy heat proof pouches alongside their straightener purchase and most did not even sell the safety devices.  

The research also revealed that while most manufacturers include basic safety information with their products, only a third provide heat proof mats or pouches[iv]. When the charity tested these accessories they also found that their quality differed greatly, with some mats and pouches smelting with the application of heat.

The Electrical Safety Council is also calling on parents to be more aware of the risks of hair straighteners, following its concerning research into how many are used and stored. Nearly two thirds of parents with young children do not use a heat proof pouch to store hair straighteners after use, and over a third of parents admit to leaving their products to cool down on the floor or hanging off furniture where children could easily touch or grab them whilst they’re still hot[v]. And it is not just children who are at risk, with nearly half of all adults saying they have received a burn from a heated hair appliance before[vi].

As part of its campaign to reduce burns among children, the Electrical Safety Council has created a hard-hitting video showing the effects of leaving hair straighteners unattended near toddlers. The charity is also giving away a limited number of free heat proof pouches to help encourage people to store appliances away properly and to reduce the number of burns. 

Emma Apter from the Electrical Safety Council said: “It’s really worrying that retailers and manufacturers are selling products that can reach 235°C without explaining the dangers of not storing them properly. Hair straighteners can cause burns so serious that surgery is required, and children are at even more risk since their skin can be 15 times thinner than that of adults. Retailers and manufacturers must do more to protect their customers.”

Katrina Phillips from the Child Accident Prevention Trust said: “Parents don’t know that hair straighteners can get as hot as their iron. Toddlers are into everything but don’t know that heat hurts. Add in the chaos of getting everyone ready and out of the house, and it’s no surprise these horrible burns are on the increase. We urge parents to keep hair straighteners out of reach of small hands and feet, and store them away safely – in a heat proof pouch if you can.”

Find out more about staying safe around health and beauty products.

[i] According to data released by the South West Regional Paediatric Burns Service at Frenchay Hospital which shows that children admitted to hospital for hair straightener burns more than doubled from 2007 – 2011.
Sariginson JH, et all, ‘155 burns caused by hair straighteners in children: A single centre’s experience over 5 years. Burns (2013)

[ii] According to a study issued by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in 2012

[iii] According to data released by the South West Regional Paediatric Burns Service at Frenchay Hospital, 49% of hair straightener burns among children are caused by them touching or grabbing the appliance

[iv] Only 25 hair straighteners out of the 77 looked at for the Electrical Safety Council’s report came with a heat resistant mat or pouch

[v] 60% of parents with children under the age of 5 do not store hair straighteners in a heat proof pouch after use; 27% leave hair straighteners on the floor after use; and 23% leave hair straighteners hanging off an item of furniture when cooling down

[vi] 41% have received a burn from a heated hair styler before

Notes to Editors:

  • The Electrical Safety Council is a UK charity dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents. Visit for more information.
  • The Electrical Safety Council investigated 22 retailers and manufacturers between December 2013 and January 2014 and looked at 77 hair straighteners from 8 leading manufacturers. The investigation looked at the products on sale, whether they were sold with heat proof mats or pouches, and what safety advice was available. A number of heat proof mats and straighteners were then tested in lab conditions to assess their safety.
  • All consumer research, unless otherwise stated, was conducted from 6th – 8th December 2013 by Populus on behalf of the Electrical Safety Council with a sample of 2,027 adults. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults.