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LETTER: 12-year-old burn victim has a message for parents

During Burn Awareness Week she hopes no one will have to experience what she went through.

My name is Keira McKenzie and I am 12 years old. I have lived in Chilliwack since I was a baby and I am writing the Chilliwack Progress today because I would like to raise awareness in our community for burn injuries.

This week is Burn Awareness Week and my hope is that kids and adults in Chilliwack don’t have to experience what I went through.

Two years ago I was on my way to a doctor’s appointment with my mom and sister. Since our clinic has a great team of doctors and nurses, we wanted to bring them a treat. On our way to the appointment, we picked up coffee, tea, as well as hot chocolate for me and my sister Hailey. Five drinks were balancing in a four-cup holder and the tea balancing in the middle tumbled over. From the shock of the hot liquid I dropped the entire tray on my lap, which resulted in second and third degree burns on my legs, about 25 per cent of my body. It really hurt.

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I was in BC Children’s Hospital for two and a half weeks, and spent some of that time in the intensive care unit. In my first year of recovery I had about 20 appointments at BC Children’s, driving back and forth with my mom and dad between Chilliwack and Vancouver. That’s something people don’t realize about burns – there are a lot of follow-up appointments to help with the healing process, especially with kids.

Having a burn is painful, but what really sucked was missing out on swimming for an entire summer, being away from my friends, and not being able to practise jiu jitsu. I am a purple belt.

While burns can happen to anyone, they most frequently happen in kids. In fact, burn injuries are the third leading reason why kids under five are admitted to hospital in B.C.

Going to Burn Camp for the last two years, I have met kids from across the province who have burn injuries. Many of their injuries happened when they were little. Accidents happen, but often burns, especially in little kids, can be prevented.

Burn Awareness Week is taking place Feb. 2 until Feb. 7 and it is a great time for everyone in Chilliwack to learn about burn risks. Here are some tips that everyone should know:

• Have a kid, use a lid: using a travel mug is the easiest way to prevent scalds at home;

• The kitchen is not a play area: The kitchen can be the most dangerous room in the house. Remember to turn pot handles inward. Don’t carry hot liquids if children are close by;

• Stay safe in the kitchen: Use caution when handling food or liquids heated on stoves, or microwave ovens.

Keira McKenzie