Brisbane mother Yvonne and son Andrew receive teddy bears from emergency services for Andrew's bravery. The two year old sustained burns to 75% of his feet from walking on a smouldering camp fire at Kenilworth in January.
Brisbane mother Yvonne and son Andrew receive teddy bears from emergency services for Andrew's bravery. The two year old sustained burns to 75% of his feet from walking on a smouldering camp fire at Kenilworth in January. Ava Benny-Morrison

Mum hopes lesson on campfire safety will prevent accidents

IT was an innocent manoeuvre not uncommon for adventurous toddlers on a camping trip.

Spotting what appeared to be a sand pit only a few steps away, two-year-old Andrew moved forward.

But when he felt the unbearable sensation of burning flesh under his toes his natural reaction was to step out of it.

Only his next move took him into the middle of a smouldering camp fire, which was covered by sand in a feeble attempt to extinguish the blaze days earlier.

Two months on, Andrew and his mother, Yvonne, are still in and out of hospital to monitor the skin grafts Andrew required to treat burns to 75% of his feet.

As thousands of Queenslanders prepare to pack-up their cars and head to camping hot spots for the Easter long weekend, Brisbane-based mother and son, Yvonne and Andrew, have reiterated their experience as a lesson to others in campfire safety.

"It's quite traumatising and upsetting to think that your two-year-old son has got serious burns on his feet and has to be hospitalised," Yvonne said.

"The night that it happened he had to have sedation and that was quite traumatic also.

"I was 34 weeks pregnant and it was meant to be a camping trip (at Kenilworth) for us to have a few days away prior to the baby coming and going back to work."

Andrew is only one of about 40 children who receive severe burns each year from avoidable fires.

Campfires simply covered in sand or dirt as a way to extinguish them can still retain heat of up to 500 degrees for several hours.

"We often find most children are burnt from campfires that are lit the previous night," Queensland Children's Medical Institute burns prevention researcher Belinda Wallis said.

"Whether it's their own fire or previous campers, parents don't recognise the hazard. They think it is extinguished and they don't understand the heat that is hidden under the sand."

Community Safety Minister Jack Dempsey urged campers to put their fires out properly.

"I really do ask everybody to put your campfire out properly with water and leave that area as you discovered it because we certainly don't want any more injuries to little boys like Andrew or any other young Queenslanders," he said.

 

CAMPFIRE TIPS

  • Make sure fire is contained
  • Start fire away from bush
  • Never use sand or dirt to extinguish
  • Use 10 litres of water to turn fire into smoulder
  • Treat burns under running water


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