Prevent burns through awareness

Burns can happen so quickly. The Scott family of Vernon shares their story: “On the evening of Dec. 18, 2010, our family was having a quiet evening at home when suddenly we heard a loud shriek of pain and fear coming from the bathroom. His mother, Sam, was the first to reach eight-year-old Kael. He had reached across the counter to wash his hands and brushed his shirt over a lit tea light candle. When Sam reached him the front of his shirt was already burning, the flames hitting his chin and partially obscuring his face. His father, Jason, came in moments later and helped to remove the burned shirt.

Kael Scott rides in the fire truck in this year’s Vernon Winter Carnival parade Feb. 5. The BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund’s 15th Annual Burn Awareness Week is Feb. 6 to 12.

Kael Scott rides in the fire truck in this year’s Vernon Winter Carnival parade Feb. 5. The BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund’s 15th Annual Burn Awareness Week is Feb. 6 to 12.

Burns can happen so quickly. The Scott family of Vernon shares their story: “On the evening of Dec. 18, 2010, our family was having a quiet evening at home when suddenly we heard a loud shriek of pain and fear coming from the bathroom. His mother, Sam, was the first to reach eight-year-old Kael. He had reached across the counter to wash his hands and brushed his shirt over a lit tea light candle. When Sam reached him the front of his shirt was already burning, the flames hitting his chin and partially obscuring his face. His father, Jason, came in moments later and helped to remove the burned shirt.

The pain was so bad that Kael’s eyes were rolling back and he was screaming, ‘It hurts. Please, I don’t want to die.’ He was taken to VJH but had to be airlifted to B.C. Children’s Hospital the next day due to the severity of his burns.

Kael suffered second and third degree burns over most of his chest and under his armpit, as well as second degree burns on his chin, wrist and legs. He had to have a skin graft operation to repair the damage to his chest and armpit. He will need to wear specially made compression garments to minimize scarring 24 hours a day for two years. He is healing well but there is still a long road ahead of him.”

Firefighters did not attend this scene as the fire did not spread to the home but Vernon firefighter Allyson Reich said fires can start within moments and do incredible damage.

“For Burn Awareness Week we are asking people to look around their homes and think about potential sources of danger from fires. When we think of burns, we usually think of open flame but boiling water or steam can be just as bad.”

Young children have delicate skin and can get bad burns within seconds. Most home hot water tanks are set for 140 degrees Fahrenheit and can be lowered to 120 degrees and still provide water that is hot enough for household use. Children should be taught to start with cold water and add hot. They also need to be aware that the stove and fireplaces are hot and cooks should keep the handles of pots turned in and not wear clothing that can catch on pans. Lit candles need to be kept in a place that is safe from children and pets and matches and lighters treated as tools, not toys. Space heaters should be used only according to directions.

Reich remembers touching a hot stove element when she was about five and the semi-circular burn marks left on her hand for weeks.

“That was minor pain compared to what some people suffer with burns. The pain from burns is one of the worst that people can experience. It is really important to educate people. I enjoy the school programs we do. Children remember the ‘stop, drop and roll’ drill that we show them and that could make the difference to an accident becoming much more severe,” said Reich.

She reminds people that the best first aid treatment for burns is to cool them with cold water.

The B.C. Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund supports a Burn Camp near Mission, B.C. where burn survivors ages six to 18 can enjoy a week of camping with counseling, including from other burn survivors and professional firefighters.

Vernon firefighters have set up the Kael Scott Burn Fund. People can donate by taking bottles to Chasers Bottle Depot and saying that the bottles are for the Kael Scott Burn Fund.