Mum's warning to parents coming into winter after son suffers 'horrific' burns from gas heater

Picture: Supplied
Picture: Supplied 

When Georgette Lysaght picked up a call from her husband Beau, all she could hear was his voice shakily utter 'burn' and her son's pained cries.

Without a second thought she left work and rushed home, only to be met with the smell of, as she describes it,?'burning flesh' as she opened the door.

Inside she found Beau holding their six-month-old Benjamin's hand under running water, as the little boy screamed from the pain of burning through several layers of skin.

Wrapping his hand in a wet cloth with ice around it to keep it cold and wet, the aged care nurse bundled Ben and older sister Brooklyn, then two, into the car and rushed him to their local hospital in Moree.?

And as Georgette explains, it only took seconds for the bub to be?seriously injured.

Picture: Ben suffered a horrific third degree burn after touching the heater

Picture: Ben suffered a horrific third degree burn after touching the heater

"I?asked Beau what happened and he said Benny and Brooke?were on the floor playing. Ben had been using his walker when Beau's phone rang. It was just a split second when he turned to answer it that Ben pushed himself over to the heater and grabbed hold," she told?Essential Baby.

"It was a gas heater, not one that blows hot air, but that has bars that glow red. Ben didn't make a sound, my husband turned around and froze and then jumped up and had to pry his hand off, because it had melted onto it."?

"He shoved it under water?- if he hadn't done that Ben would have been stuffed. He rang me and I could hear the pain in Ben's cries."

Advertisement

When they arrived at the hospital they were rushed into triage,?where a team assessed the burn. As Ben had stopped crying by this point the couple thought it must not have been as bad as they'd thought. However,?nurses told them it instead indicated a very severe burn.

"I said,?'That's good he can't feel it,?right?'?And they said,?'No, that means it's a lot further down and we think he has no nerves left'."

Picture: Ben had to wear a special cast for a year to help his hand heal

Picture: Ben had to wear a special cast for a year to help his hand heal

After Ben passed?out from the pain, they cut away the burnt skin - with Georgette saying the whole top layers of the hand had gone. After dressing it, they were sent home and told to travel to Tamworth hospital the next day.

There, the?procedure had to be repeated?- a?traumatic experience for the family, with four nurses and Georgette having to hold Ben down. After weeks of going to hospital to have his dressing changed, Ben developed a staff infection and was flown to The Children's Hospital at Westmead.

Here, he was fitted with a special cast to help his skin stretch over his hand in order to heal.? Georgette was told?that?had they not arrived?at that time, her son?may have lost significant movement in his hand. After a year of wearing the cast,?and the family regularly making the seven-hour-plus drive to hospital for check ups, Ben's hand has now healed well.

While it looks normal, he has no feeling in it, which may not return for several years until the nerves grow back.?It?will always have less feeling that his right hand,?but?Georgette said the outcome could have been much worse.

She?warned other parents to take a first aid?course - something both she and Beau had undergone -?so they know how to respond to situations like Ben's, crediting Beau's?quick thinking?for Ben's recovery.?

Picture: Beau and Georgette Lysaght with their kids Brooklyn and Benjamin

Picture: Beau and Georgette Lysaght with their kids Brooklyn and Benjamin

"First aid, every parent should do it. I think it's so important.?If we didn't have that training he would have needed a skin graft. I couldn't imagine..."

While Ben is today a happy 18-month-old, Georgette said the injury had set him back in some areas, but that he didn't let anything stop him.?

As for gas heaters, she urges parents to look for alternative heating solutions this winter, warning they are absolutely not safe with kids in the house.?"The most positive thing from?Ben's burn,?as horrific as it has been, has been raising awareness about the dangers," she said.??

Her warning comes as The Sydney Children's Hospital network this week reported between four to five children presented across The Children's Hospital at Westmead and Sydney Children's Hospital Randwick for burns during winter last year.?

While many of these resulted from hot food or drinks, head of their burns unit Dr?Torey?Lawrence reminded parents to be?vigilent?when using heaters, campfires and fire?pits. Especially for kids aged under five.?

Picture: Ben's hand today, one year on from the burn

Picture: Ben's hand today, one year on from the burn

"Burns are unfortunately very common in toddlers because they are so curious and move very quickly, often?getting to hot items or surfaces before an adult has the chance to stop them," Dr Lawrence said.

"These injuries are very serious and can cause lifelong scarring, especially if not treated correctly. While?prevention is key, knowing the correct first aid to treat a burn is absolutely vital."

The hospital network advised?running the burn under cool running water for 20 minutes and warned against using ice, toothpaste, cream or butter on burns, which can?worsen their severity.