On Wednesday University Medical Center issued a warning that playing with fire kills. This year alone, six juveniles have been admitted to the UMC Burn Unit, after being burned by gasoline. Two-weeks ago, one of those incidents turned fatal. That victim was an 11-year-old boy burned by pouring gasoline on a campfire. He was treated here at the burn unit before losing his life to those injuries.
“I have watched too many children, too many adults and their family members go through the agony and the heartache,” says Cynthia Hester, a Burn Unit Nurse at UMC, describing the trauma of being a burn victim. Hester has spent 20 years working in UMC's Burn Unit and it's this time of year she dreads the most. “When kids have time on their hands, they get into trouble.”
During spring and summer months, Cynthia says too many juveniles are admitted into the burn unit as a result of playing with gasoline. “Gasoline burns hot and it burns fast.”
Cynthia says the scenario is all too familiar. Juveniles pouring gasoline on camp fires or barbeque pits and on a windy day, it could be a recipe for disaster. “They've watched the adults do it so they're going to do it.” The result: life-long injuries or worse.
“He was burning trash. He accidentally dropped the can of gas and it splashed on his jeans and caught his jeans on fire,” says Debbie Pool, a burn victim's mother. Debbie's 14-year-old son is being treated at UMC’s Burn Unit for second and third degree burns. “He's going to have a lot of recovery, a lot of pain to go through. We consider him extremely lucky,” Pool says.
Cynthia says she's treated others who weren't so lucky. “The family was asleep and the child woke up and saw that the fire was going out and poured gasoline on it.” The 11-year-old boy received burns on 97% of his body and died. It’s a tragic reminder to educate your children on the dangers of playing with fire. “It's just a plea for family members to talk to your kids. Gasoline kills,” Hester says.
Inside the Burn Unit is the burn treatment room. This is where patients undergo the most painful part of treatment. Nurses literally scrub off the dead skin from their bodies twice a day. They do this to encourage new skin growth and its part of the healing process but you can imagine how painful that is. This is something Cynthia says those kids can think about before they decide to play with gas and fire.
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