Backyard barbecues and beach bonfires are beloved summer activities across the country, but they also put people – especially children – at risk of painful, long-term injury.
Dr. Marianne Cinat, UC Irvine Regional Burn Center director, urges extra caution with the use and cleanup of firepits or barbecues at the beach and at campsites. “We’re seeing approximately two dozen firepit injuries each year,” said Cinat, a surgery professor at UC Irvine Medical Center. “And all of these accidents are preventable.”
Cinat has noticed more burns as camping and backyard firepits have become more popular. About half of the injuries treated at her center occur at the beach; most involve children 6 and younger who crawl or fall into firepits.
And then there are the hidden dangers of sand-covered coals. Tina Aldatz Norris learned firsthand about those.
As a young girl growing up in Orange County, Aldatz Norris burned the soles of her feet on hot charcoals buried beneath sand at a beach firepit. She was treated at the UC Irvine Regional Burn Center for severe burns on both feet. For months afterward, the simple act of walking in sneakers or flats was painful.
To this day, Aldatz Norris’s feet are sensitive and prone to blistering. So she started Foot Petals, a Long Beach-based company that brings together podiatrists and engineers to create designer insoles that help women walk more comfortably.
“I’ve been inspired to turn a bad situation into a positive event in my life,” said Aldatz Norris, a Certified Pedorthist qualified to design orthotics. “I know that many children are injured every year due to firepit injuries, and I feel it’s critically important to raise safety awareness.”
Cinat says that there are some simple and crucial steps adults can take to lessen the risk of firepit burn injuries.
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