A 3-year-old from Cherokee County, Texas suffered third-degree burns to his torso, chest, and arms after setting his shirt on fire with a lighter he found in his grandfather's room. His mother was cleaning the living room at the time.
In addition to being a great reminder of the importance of securing lighters and matches where kids can't get to them, this incident reinforces how important it is to be prepared for fires.
If your toddler ran into the room crying "Mommy, fire, fire, me fire, help me" with his shirt on fire, would you know what to do?
Remember, and teach your kids, to stop, drop, and roll. A parent should help their younger child stop, drop, and roll, which both helps to smother the flames and keep the smoke and flames out of your child's face.
According to U.S. Fire Administration, "Clothing fires are a significant cause of fire injuries to children (and to adults too). They set their clothes on fire by getting too close to heat sources such as open fires or stoves, or when playing with matches or lighters. Here too, the best defense is a respect for fire and training in what to do if their clothes do catch fire. Their natural reaction is to run ' which will make the situation worse. STOP, DROP, and ROLL is taught as the correct action and has saved many lives in clothing fires. The moment clothes start to burn, stop where you are, drop to the ground, cover your face with your hands and roll repeatedly to smother the flames."
What about using water or a fire extinguisher? Stop, drop, and roll is the preferred method to putting out a clothing fire unless a fire extinguisher or water are readily available. Don't go searching for a fire extinguisher or take the time to fill up a container of water or get your child to the shower, when you can just get him to the floor and roll him around.
The mother of this toddler in East Texas likely panicked, as she 'tried pulling the shirt over his head,' and then 'had to pat the fire off,' when she couldn't get the burning shirt off.
Remember Stop, Drop, and Roll. You can take the burned clothing off after you get the fire out (if the clothing isn't sticking to your child's skin) and then run cool water over the burned area for 3 to 5 minutes. You should also likely seek immediate medical attention for all but the most minor burns in these situations.
It is easy to panic if you aren't prepared. As this happens to be National Fire Prevention Week, get prepared by making sure your matches and lighters are out of reach, in high, ideally locked cabinets, going over your home fire escape plan, and making sure that you have working smoke detectors in your home.