Fire pits and campfires are dangerous—that's the warning from doctors and nurses at Hennepin County Medical Center who treat burns. In April alone, HCMC’s Burn Center treated several children under the age of five who suffered burns caused by fire pits or by campfires.
Two-year-old local Nolan Winegarner was one of those children. He fell into a smoldering fire pit, badly burning his elbow and his hand.
“It was awful,” said Nolan's father, Travis Winegarner, in a press release. “He was rolling on the ground in pain, and it happened so quickly. We don’t want any other parents or children to have to go through this.”
According to the Minnesota Safety Council, the number of injuries to children spikes in the summer. And with warmer weather in the forecast, HCMC staff are concerned that they’ll see more children, like Nolan Winegarner, with fire pit or campfire burns.
“Children are curious and move quickly, and they can trip and fall into the fire pit," said Pat Anderson, a nurse with HCMC, in the release. "Their clothing can catch fire easily, resulting in painful burns or even death."
Since 2005, the HCMC Burn Center has treated 150 patients who were injured with either fire pit or campfire burns. Almost one-third of these patients were children.
Anderson warned that smoldering coals could cause severe burns up to 24 hours after the fire has stopped burning.
“After enjoying a campfire, it’s important to make sure fires are put out and coals are thoroughly extinguished,” Anderson said in the release.
Nolan Winegarner is currently recovering from his second and third degree burns at his home just north of Minnetonka. Travis Winegarner happens to work in the burn care field, selling advanced wound care products for burn patients. He said that Nolan's injuries show that this kind of accident can happen to children even when parents know full-well the dangers of burns.
“I’ve been selling the products for 10 years ... explaining to surgeons and clinicians how the products work," he said in the release. "I never imagined my precious son would need them.”