Facebook Pixel Code
About Sickkids
About SickKids

May 14, 2014

Before igniting your long-weekend campfire, think burn prevention!

As families prepare to kick off the spring and summer camping season this Victoria Day weekend, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is reminding parents and caregivers to practice campfire safety measures and to generally be mindful of burn hazards in and around the home.

While most burns are accidental, many are preventable. These injuries can be life-threatening and painful, putting the child at risk of serious infection and requiring multiple skin-graft surgeries and frequent medical procedures.

For the Wilkinson family, life changed forever on a July 2012 camping trip. During dinner, which dad Jordan had just cooked over the campfire, two-year-old Willow got up from the table and did a little dance after hearing some exciting news. Seconds later, she was being pulled from the campfire. She suffered severe, full-thickness (third-degree) burns to more than eight per cent of her body, primarily her hand and arms.

A couple of months before Willow’s accident, a minor kitchen burn had prompted Jordan to research the proper first aid practices for burns. When Willow fell into the fire, her dad immediately knew what to do: he doused her with his four-litre canteen of water. An off-duty paramedic who was camping nearby ensured that she was then placed under a running faucet of cool water until the ambulance arrived. This helped reduce the severity of her injuries.

Willow, now four, required multiple surgeries and medical procedures and continues to be treated in the Burn Program at SickKids. While she has visible scars, her mom Danielle says the family now “wears them like a badge of honour” and wants to share their story to encourage campfire safety and burn prevention.

“Proper first aid is critically important in minimizing the damage caused by a burn,” says Dr. Joel Fish, Medical Director of the SickKids Burn Program, the largest paediatric burn program in Canada. “While many people immediately use ice, this could cause further damage. The best thing to do is hold the burned area under cool water for at least 20 minutes.”

The most common cause of burns is actually scalds caused by hot liquids, and these represent 70 per cent of burns in children under five. Many of these injuries take place in the kitchen or bathroom, and are caused by everyday items around the home.

“Most people don’t realize the damage that can be caused by a single mug of hot coffee or tea,” says Charis Kelly, Nurse Practitioner in the Burn Program. “If the mug accidentally spills, the hot liquid could scald 20 per cent of a toddler’s body. This is an injury that is easy to prevent, by keeping hot beverages away from children and using a travel mug with a secure lid.”

Kelly adds that cup holders in strollers should only be used for cold drinks, as a child could easily be burned if the stroller goes over a bump on the sidewalk, even with the use of a travel mug.

For additional information and tips on burn prevention and treatment, please visit: http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/HealthAZ/ConditionsandDiseases/Injuries/Pages/burns.aspx .