Serenity Parker was taken to hospital with serious burns after falling into a campfire last year. Picture: Mark Cranitch
Serenity Parker was taken to hospital with serious burns after falling into a campfire last year. Picture: Mark Cranitch

Campfire horror a warning to parents

PARENTS are being warned to be extra vigilant with young children around fires this winter, with new data revealing 78 children were taken to hospital with burns last year.

Latest Queensland Children's Hospital data shows that in 62 per cent of those cases the injuries were caused by glowing coals or embers rather than flame.

The average age of childen burnt last year was two, and 20 per cent of the cases required surgery, according to the hospital.

Queensland Children's Hospital senior clinical burns and trauma researcher Bronwyn Griffin said parents had to be careful of hot coals after a fire had been put out.

Serenity Parker in the burns unit after falling into a campfire.
Serenity Parker in the burns unit after falling into a campfire.

 

 

Serenity has recovered from her injuries. Picture: Mark Cranitch
Serenity has recovered from her injuries. Picture: Mark Cranitch


"Most frequently it's hot coals that we see causing serious burns with young children," Dr Griffin said.

"Hot coals burn like fire."

Dr Griffin said the number of burns cases among young children increased substantially during winter, caused most commonly by fireplaces or pits, heaters and warm air vaporisers.

"Vaporisers have no evidence to say they relieve symptoms of colds, so if you really need to use one, use one that has no heating element," she said.

Dr Griffin's advice to parents was to place any burn under cold water for 20 minutes, and to call triple-0 if they were concerned.

She said it also was important to time how long the child's burn had been in water, because "five minutes can feel like 20 minutes, when you've got a screaming child", she said.

Two-year-old Serenity Parker was camping with her family in Warwick last September when she fell into the coals of a campfire.

 

Serenity Parker still bears the scars of her horrific injuries. Picture: Mark Cranitch
Serenity Parker still bears the scars of her horrific injuries. Picture: Mark Cranitch

 

She had to be flown to the Queensland Children's Hospital, where she spent two-and-a-half weeks in the paediatric burns unit for treatment to serious burns to 9 per cent of her body.

"We were getting ready to go out four-wheel driving for the day, and Serenity was following her dad around the campfire we had just used for cooking breakfast," Serenity's mother, Kerrie Parker, said.

"The next minute she had fallen into the hot coals and was screaming her head off."

Ms Parker said while her daughter had now fully recovered, she still needed to return to hospital for regular surgery and occupational therapy.

She advised other parents to be aware of how quickly a toddler can wander too close to a fire.

"Be very vigilant of what your child is doing, and be aware that it can happen to anyone."