Sydney hospital issues Squid Game warning after spike in injuries

WARNING - GRAPHIC IMAGES: Parents are being urged to remain vigilant when their children are using the kitchen, following an influx of injuries associated with cooking challenges inspired by the Netflix series Squid Game.

The Children's Hospital at Westmead is warning parents about the challenge, which involves making honeycomb and trying to carve a shape into it without breaking it.

The Sydney hospital issued a statement saying three children were admitted with severe burns from the Squid Game inspired cooking challenges seen on TikTok.

The burns to Aiden's hand and leg from making honeycomb. Source: PR image via AAP
The burns to Aiden's hand and leg from making honeycomb. Source: PR image via AAP

All three burns occurred while melting the hot sugar and transferring the mixture to baking paper.

The Netflix series has been popular since it first arrived on the streaming platform, prompting a cult following and spurring challenges inspired by the show.

Injuries resulted in significant damage

The injuries from the burns ranged from mild scalds to nerve damage, with all three children requiring ongoing treatment.

Dr Hei warned parents to be aware of the burns risk associated with making honeycomb, urging parents and teenagers to be vigilant to avoid an injury.

“Sugar melts at a temperature that is higher than what’s needed to boil water, so the honeycomb toffee mix is both hotter and stickier. If the mixture is spilt or handled while it’s still hot, the greater heat and longer contact time causes deeper, more serious burns,” Dr Erik La Hei, Acting Head of the Burns Unit, said in a statement.

“It is absolutely vital if an accident like this does occur, parents and children know the right first aid steps to take.”

One teenager injured during the challenge, Aiden, 14, was left with burns to his hand and deep burns and nerve damage to his leg as a result of handling the hot honeycomb.

His mother Helena said the burns were so severe that doctors feared he would need a skin graft. Luckily, the burns are healing well on their own but he will need a pressure bandage for the next 12 months.

"It's shocking that such a simple act, like making honeycomb, could have such serious consequences," she said.

The popular Netflix series has inspired TikTok challenges. Source: Netflix
The popular Netflix series has inspired TikTok challenges. Source: Netflix

Dr La Hei suggests all children and teenagers should cook with supervision.

“We don’t want to discourage teenagers from cooking, it is a fun activity. But we do want to ensure they do this safely, especially when handling hot liquids. This means cooking with either the supervision or help, of an adult,” he said.

What to do if your child is burnt

According to the statement from The Children's Hospital at Westmead, if a child is burnt, the burn should be placed under cool running water for 20 minutes. Any clothing or jewellery should be removed.

If the burn is bigger than a 20-cent piece, or parents have concerns, they should seek medical help.

Immediate first aid is important to reduce the severity of the injury.

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