By FRANCESCA MOLD health reporter

Fifteen-month-old Chance Barber will always bear the scars of the moment his curiosity got the better of him.

The Kaeo toddler, who pulled a kettle of boiling water over his torso and stomach, was discharged from Kidz First children's hospital yesterday, after skin grafts had been taken from his legs to cover the burn injuries.

The South Auckland hospital, which this year expects to treat up to 150 children for burns, has just begun a $300,000 campaign aimed at cutting the number of such injuries.


The campaign, which will include billboards, television and newspaper advertising over the next three years, has been financed by Sky City.

The advertisements will focus on warning parents about household objects like kettles and pots on the stove, which are a potential danger to children.

It reminds parents that household goods can be overwhelmingly tempting for children to play with when the attention of adults is diverted.

Stephen Mills, a Kidz First plastic surgeon and burns specialist, said that every year the equivalent of 20 classrooms of New Zealand children were admitted to hospital with burns.

The injuries were most often scalds.

"There has been quite a rise in cases over the years, with many children burned by pulling hot drinks onto themselves," he said. "This is a preventable injury, which just requires people to be vigilant when children are around."

People needed to be aware of dangers around their home and conscious of how unpredictable children could be.

A Counties-Manukau scalds injury campaign has been under way since August. Figures from the campaign show that in the three years to 1998, about 639 children aged under 14 were admitted to Auckland hospitals with burns and scalds.

Children suffer more severely from burns because their skin is thinner. In an adult, a burn at 50 degrees Celsius would take five minutes to go through the full thickness of the skin.

In a child, this would take 40 seconds.

Mr Mills said effective first aid significantly reduced the need for skin grafts. Burns should go under cold, running water for about 20 minutes.