When an accident happens

During my second week back at work and Fizz’s fourth nursery day I left work early after being told Fizz had a water burn. I was told not to panic but there had been an accident with some hot water. The water had been out of the kettle for 15 minutes and was cooling on the side in the lunch room in a training cup with the lid on.

The nursery is not sure if another child splashed Fizz with it or passed it to Fizz. It was her training cup. The nursery worker had looked away for a few seconds and when she had turned around Fizz had water over her leg. I was told that it didn’t look bad and she was not distressed, not to worry. An hour later a two and half inch blister had started to appear, it wasn’t red and again I was told she seemed calm and was playing and laughing.

When I got there I think I was expected to find Fizz’s leg completely damaged, I’d seen pictures of burn victims and I expected she’d be scarred for life. She was 8 months old with delicate milky white skin. The blister/burn was about two and half inches in length, half a centimetre wide and stretches across her left thigh. The nursery worker was so nervous and still tearful when I arrived and I really felt for her and still did when she called me the next morning close to tears. I felt a bit separated from the situation, maybe a bit dazed and very confused about what to do next.

So what do you do when something like this happens to you?

If you believe it won’t happen, think again! Where ever there is human trust there is also human error, accidents can happen to anyone no matter what policy and procedure is in place. Accidents will always happen when you least expect it them too.

The first thing you can do is try to remain calm. Everyone will be upset, you as Mummy or Daddy the most, but now is the time to remain calm for baby’s sake. You need to ensure that they don’t pick up on hurt or resentment. You need to ensure their safety and seek the relevant treatment.

Discuss what questions you have and put them in writing, check Ofsted reports to ensure it is not a repeated incident and highlight any issues you have. It’s better to write a letter than let emotions cloud over the facts. Anger and tears elevate during distress so a letter is a perfect way to get those questions out. We left a week before writing a letter giving time for everyone to think thoroughly about the situation.

Ask questions – Who was there at the time of the incident? What was the staff ratio to children? How many first aiders were on hand? Can you list the events? Can you describe the first aid given? Can you tell me what your current procedures are and what will change in procedures? Can I visit and observe your staff at work? What are your thoughts on later issues raised from the incident i.e. scarring? Will you be reporting this to Ofsted?

Ensure good communication. We didn’t want Fizz to be pulled out of nursery; she is settled and loves the staff and other children. However, treat the complaint as you would for any business and the personal issues such as liking the staff etc separate.

These pieces of advice were really helpful to us and were pulled from various friends, Twitterers and online sources. It helped us write a concise letter and the nursery also appreciated us responding to them in this way. A letter lets everyone know where they stand.

Ensure your health visitor has a copy of photos and the letters on file. This may seem like paranoia but it may help you later on if it is implied you have hurt your child. I had many a look from other parents when Fizz’s burn was in view and it felt like I was being scrutinised.

As to Fizz, she is thriving in nursery; we made the decision to keep her there. The burn is healing well but we are yet to know if it will scar. But we find comfort in the fact that she is young, beautiful and we followed our hearts and did what we felt was right in reacting to the accident.

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