It’s such a brave thing to share your story in the hopes no other family have to go through what you went through, and this week we hear from Tilly, mum of 15 month old Hallie who suffered horrible burns after having an accident with a hot cup of tea. It’s hard to believe something that is such a simple part of most of our morning routines, a hot cuppa, can cause so much devastation. We’d like to thank Tilly for allowing us to share her story.
“7:30am, Tuesday 14th July. Just a usual morning for me and my 15 month old little girl (Hallie) - a slow wake up, breakfast downstairs in pyjamas with a cup of tea. But by 8am things were quite different very quickly. I had placed my freshly made tea on the table and went to go back into the kitchen - in my head I thought, ‘I’ll just push that cup a bit further in so she can’t get it’ but as I turned, she was already there grabbing the cup and I watched tea fall all down her front. After that, things are quite blurred. I remember picking her up and quickly taking her top off, the skin was pink at most and I wasn’t sure at that stage how bad it was. I immediately went to our kitchen sink and ran the tap over her front, as you’re taught to do. The skin quickly went from just a pale pink to red and it began to peel off.
I was panicked and unsure of what to do but knew I had to try and cool it for her. It was awkward to hold her in the sink so we went upstairs to our shower where it was easier to hold her under the cool water. I called my mum in a panic because I felt nervous to call 999 but my mum (a nurse of 20+ years) hastily told me to hang up and call. I did, and within minutes the paramedics were at my door. They reassured me that I had done exactly the right thing by keeping her in cool water but we needed to do it for longer and we continued to cool the burn, this time with my partner holding her in the shower. We had to try and keep her body temperature up whilst cooling the burn which is really difficult - the time you have to hold a burn under water felt like hours, and Hallie was hysterical and looking for me to take her out. The paramedics told me to pack a bag with essentials and that because of the percentage of burns on her body, the local hospital weren’t experienced enough to deal with it and that they had called for an air ambulance to quickly take us to one that could. I carried my little girl towards the helicopter whilst small groups of neighbours crowded and watched. Some even filmed and took photos of us, the guilt I felt at that point and still do feel is unlike anything else I’ve ever felt.
We arrived at hospital and things just felt like they were getting worse, although Hallie was in good spirits at this point having been given strong painkillers. I was told that Hallie needed to be put under a general anaesthetic for a procedure called ‘debridement’ where they scrub/remove all the dead skin to give the wound a fighting chance at healing.
After a week in hospital and many bandage changes later we were finally able to go home. We were given strict instructions about sun exposure and what impact that would have on the scarring. We have covered Hallie in UV suits whilst out in the sun and never exposed the bare skin. We have to do this for another year (2 years in total) Then we have to be extremely careful with the exposure she gets or we risk permanent pigmentations. The skin will never be the same and acts very differently to the rest of her body - when she is upset or angry the burn shows up a reddy/purple colour and it is much, much more sensitive and reacts more quickly now. She quite often will have a heat rash there but not on the rest of her skin.
We were very lucky that where the tea hit wasn’t on her face or anywhere else and it can be covered easily to allow her to play outside in summer. Although Hallie doesn’t seem to remember the event, it will stay with me for the rest of my life. The trauma is something I am still learning to deal with to this day a year on, and there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think about it.”
Tilly, we are so sorry for what you’ve had to go through, it sounds so traumatic. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and helping other parents know what to do in a burns emergency. Mini First Aid’s advice for treating a burn is as follows:
If you’d like to learn more about treating burns, book onto our 2 hour Baby and Child First Aid class where this is covered in detail. Even if you’ve done the class before, is it time for a refresher? Book your class today