Hutch toddler’s burn shows need for fire safety

By Kayla Regan
Hutchinson News – April 28, 2014

They hadn’t used their fire pit for days, but it was still hot enough to hurt their 2-year-old son.

According to police reports, a 2-year-old received burns to his feet and ankles after standing in his parents’ backyard fire pit. The report states the boy was playing outside Saturday evening while his parents did yard work.

When they heard their son, who was wearing canvas tennis-shoes, yelling, the parents saw him standing in the ashes of their firepit, which is marked by rocks in the ground. The boy was first assessed at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center, but then later taken to Via Christi Medical Center’s burn unit in Wichita.

Parents told officers that their fire pit hadn’t been used in days, something Battalion Fire Chief Doug Hanen completely believed. Although the fire department did not work this particular case, he said ashes can carry high amounts of heat for days and strong winds make them more dangerous.

“Ashes are not our friend when it comes to fire. It seems like they’re out, but it’s really still in there and it takes just a little bit of wind to give ashes more oxygen it needs to start back up again,” he said.

What makes matters worse with outdoor fires is that the ashes will form a hard crust around the embers, trapping the heat and making the potential for flames to start again high.

“If they’re using a fire pit, the best thing you can do is soak it down real good to make sure you get it out,” he said. “It goes back to Smokey the Bear.”

The boy has since been released from the hospital and is doing well.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster