It was a cold Sunday. The Dempseys turned on the fireplace to make the room more cozy.
“It was on for maybe an hour or so and then we turned it off and, just suddenly, my daughter started screaming and my husband ran to her,” Kimberly Collins Dempsey said.
Wynne, just one-year-old, had touched the glass and the glass was still hot enough to give her second degree burns.
“She was just inconsolable like couldn’t get comfortable, flinging her hands around,” Dempsey said.
They rushed Wynne to the emergency room and -- the next day -- to Shriners Hospitals for Children. Doctors treated her and dressed her burns. For the next two weeks, she couldn’t use her hands and had to be spoon fed.
“I had to go there every other day and they basically wrapped up both of her hands. They had to cut all of the blisters off,” Dempsey said.
Wynne’s surgeon, Dr. Colleen Ryan, says it’s a common injury. She estimates Shriners sees at least 20 children with fireplace burns each year.
“The glass in front of gas fireplaces is designed not to shatter, it’s tempered glass. However, it’s not like your oven. It actually gets very, very hot and it remains hot for almost a half an hour after the fireplace is shut off,” Ryan said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says every year, gas fireplaces lead to about 17,000 trips to the doctor and 360 emergency room visits. The group says 95 percent of those burns are on children’s palms.
Dempsey shared her family’s story on Facebook, saying, “On Sunday night, our sweet baby girl touched our glass-fronted fireplace almost an hour after we had turned it off. Her shrieks of pain were quickly met with red lesions on both hands.”
Doctors took off Wynne's bandages and she's healing beautifully.
“'Like it never happened,' that’s what they all told me. ‘She will never remember this. You guys will and you’ll feel horrible, but she’ll never remember this,’” Dempsey said.
Safe Kids Charlotte-Mecklenburg saw Jason’s report and said parents should also be aware that many public spaces have these types of gas fireplaces.
“Parents should also be aware besides their home, that many restaurants and hotels have these glass fireplaces and be aware of their smaller kids in public places that have such, just like at home,” Safe Kids said in a statement to Action 9.
You can get a protective screen for your fireplace. They cost anywhere from $200 to $1,000. Many gas fireplaces made after 2015 already have them.
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