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BC Children’s sounds alarm about youth playing with fire

Physicians are seeing an increase in the severity of burns at the hospital and are warning parents and youth to talk about how playing with fire can cause life-changing injuries or death.
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​BC Children’s Hospital physicians are advising parents and youth to talk about how dangerous it is to play with fire, including around campfires and through fire challenges on social media.

“I find these social media fire challenges very concerning,” says BC Children’s Hospital Burn Program Director, Dr. Sally Hynes. “When you’re playing with flames, especially with accelerants, the situation can get out of hand very quickly. It can even hurt onlookers around you.”

Each year, BC Children’s sees more than 1,000 visits for burn-related treatment and follow-ups. This includes children who have been badly burned after playing with fire. 

“We are seeing more severe injuries than previous years,” says Dr. Hynes. “Families are living their worst nightmare as a result of children playing with fire.”

The most severe burns

Severe burn injuries can happen when children fall into campfires or play with fire, causing their clothes to ignite. Large burns, those covering more than 20 per cent of the body, can make children and youth very sick, and require intensive care. 

“It’s an inflammatory response that affects the whole body and can make children very ill,” says Dr. Hynes. 

Children with burn injuries require specialized care and a highly-trained team of experts to not only treat the physical injuries, but also to care for the emotional well-being of both the patient and their family. 

What you can do

One of the easiest steps you can take to reduce the risk of severe burns in children and youth is to share this information with them, as well as with parents and caregivers.

“Please stop and think, and do not play with fire or try any sort of challenge on social media involving fire or physical danger,” says Dr. Hynes. “I strongly urge parents to educate their children not to play with fire and for youth to speak up when they see their friends start to play with fire – to try to stop these devastating injuries from happening.”

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