Ahead of Memorial Day, doctors are warning everyone about the dangers of campfires and grilling.
"This time of year, everybody's getting outside," said Jessica Pilgrim, Nurse at Hillcrest. "They're enjoying the warmer weather, doing some yard work, having get-togethers, and so a lot of times we see patients coming in from fire accidents related to gasoline on fires, kiddos walking over hot coals the morning after having a campfire, people falling in fires or leaving their fires unattended and trying to put them out themselves and causing burns to their legs and lower extremities. We just want everybody to have a great time. We just want everybody to be safe. But we're here if the need arises."
This week, Hillcrest has treated about 8 campfire-related burns. They tell us many of them are children.
Burn nurses said reckless behavior around a campfire is a sure-fire way to end up in the hospital.
“It can happen within seconds and that's what happened to me. It happened so fast, it was already done,” said Larry Barnett Jr.
Last May changed Larry Barnett Jr's life forever when he decided to pour gasoline on a fire.
"Caught from my waist up on fire. Got my arms. Burnt my chest. Burnt my face. It caught my hoodie on fire, burned my hat off my head,” said Barnett.
Barnett said he was scared to look at himself.
"Didn't have no arms for a long time or hands. I couldn't change clothes. I couldn't use the restroom,” said Barnett. "I was a volunteer firefighter for 3 and a half years and I've been in houses on fire with flames over my head. I knew what I did. Big mistake."
Nurse Jessica Pilgrim said she sees an increase in patients at Hillcrest's Burn Center every Memorial Day.
Many of them were kids that had stepped on embers the morning after a campfire.
"What happens with the kiddos is they don't fall in the flame. The next morning they'll be out playing, running around. Maybe they're camping, and they run across those ashes that don't look hot, but those ashes can actually stay hot and cause severe burns up to 12 hours after the fire being put out,” said Pilgrim. "Maybe they fall in them. Hit their knees. Hit their hands. Or they walk across them, and it burns the bottom of their feet."
Pilgrim said to have a barrier around your fire pit to control the flames, put a sober person in charge of monitoring the fire, and keep kids 3 feet away.
She's seen everything from sunburns to second-degree burns causing blisters and third-degree burns which are typically white and leathery.
“A lot of times people don't feel it so they're like, 'Oh I don't feel anything that wasn't so bad but I'm like uh, well... that's because you've caused quite a bit of damage,” said Pilgrim. "The minor burns will come to our outpatient clinic and sometimes we can treat them with just local dressings and just weekly follow-ups, all the way up to extended hospital stays. Multiple surgeries, physical therapy. A wide range and a long, long road to recovery.”
4th-degree burns are all the way down to the muscle.
Barnett has several more surgeries to go but he is grateful to be alive.
"Just gotta stay strong. Have to. Gotta think positive things about life. Thank God every day,” said Barnett.
Nurses said the first thing you should do if you’re burned is to rinse your wound with lukewarm water and apply a small amount of antibacterial ointment.