It only takes a second…(Baby Brother in the hospital)

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I can’t believe I’m writing this post right now sitting with Baby Brother in the hospitalagain. (*UPDATE at the end)

It only takes a second…

We’ve heard that safety line so many times. Here in Arizona, we’ve heard the line as part of a huge water safety and drowning prevention campaign. But, it fits with so many other things too, especially where little ones are concerned.

It only takes a second for you to look away and an accident to happen. For us, it happened Monday night. We were enjoying the more pleasant Phoenix temperatures and grilling a nice dinner. The boys were outside playing while Daddy grilled – a scene that’s probably played out a hundred times before. He had the back of the grill blockaded off so little hands would be deterred from touching. The boys weren’t playing that close to the grill as we try to make sure they stay away. But, he looked away for just a second. It only takes a second.. and in stealthy toddler fashion, Baby Brother toddled right under the side burner/tray area of the grill and then touched the SUPER hot small side panel of the grill. Just a second of not watching…just a second of those sweet baby hands on hot metal. I will never forget the sound of the screams.

Just a second. I know how easy it is for stuff like this to happen. I know things can happen even when you are SO careful. I know things like this happen all the time. And I know that it could be so much worse. But, I still can’t believe it happened and everything that’s going on now.

His right hand was white in places and blistered immediately. So, I knew we were heading straight to the ER. Daddy held his hands under cool running water while I grabbed a few things and loaded the other boys in the car. I kept cold water soaked paper towels on his hands while we rode to the ER. There, they had us keep his hands in a bucket of cool water for another 20 minutes or so. Initially, I hadn’t even realized both hands were affected, though the right is much worse than the left. Then, they covered the burns in Silver sulfadiazine (Silvadene) ointment and bandages. The ER doctor told us to follow-up with our pediatrician the next morning, but the nurse suggested just going to the burn unit (she was right).  photo(30)But, the next morning I was able to get right in with our pediatrician, so I wanted to see him first. We have a rapport with the office and I trust him inherently. He looked him over, redressed the burns with more silvadene ointment, and sent us to the burn unit. It was amazing to see how much swelling there had been in just over 12 hours – his poor little hand was huge! Palm burnsAfter a LONG wait in the burn unit waiting room, we were finally seen. Everyone took an initial look at the blisters and thought the same as our pediatrician – severe second degree burns and after they popped the blisters we’d be going home (with follow-ups at the burn clinic).  So, we held him down and tried to console him while they opened up the blisters on both hands. Hand burn blisterThat was bad enough, but I knew as soon as they opened the first blister (the large one on his palm) that things weren’t good. The tissue was all white underneath (dead). There were 3 nurses present, an OT, and the Dr. While they were cutting everything open, statements got made like, “wow. these are deeper than we thought. 3rd degree. dead tissue, etc”. Then the Dr. told us that we couldn’t go home. With the exception of the small burn on his left index finger, all the burns are 3rd degree.


I pretty much lost it. I had held pretty strong through the MRSA ordeal, and even through the burn so far (except right when it happened). But, I wasn’t prepared for this one. I didn’t think we’d be admitted…no one thought it was this bad.

They splinted his right hand (to keep the burns from making his fingers contract inward) and bandaged the left. Burns can take up to 72 hours to show their full effect. So, it still could get worse before it gets better. And they don’t know how deep it is yet, which means he could end up in surgery. We’re praying that’s not the hand burnsUgh! So, that’s what’s going on here on the Mom Endeavors front. Lots of tears and praying. Needless to say, we feel literally sick about what’s happened.

He’s a trooper though. The resiliency of little ones is absolutely amazing. If it wasn’t for his big sock puppets, you wouldn’t know anything was wrong. He hasn’t even had pain meds the whole time we’ve been here! Now it’s just a waiting game to see if the burns get worse or start healing on their own. Hopefully, we can stay out of the OR. But, either way, I’m grateful for the care he’s getting and thankful we live in a major city with this level of burn unit. Patients from Utah and New Mexico actually even get sent here to the Arizona Burn Center. So, I’m thankful that we’re so close and he’s getting good care. The pediatric team even brings in toys and things to keep them entertained & distracted! Pediatric arizona burn unitThank you to all of you that have messaged, texted, called, commented, etc. We appreciate all the support so much.

Not long after writing this, we finally got taken back for the first big dressing change and consult from the pediatric burn doctor. We did the dressing changes in a big bathtub and I was so thankful they allowed me to be present. The doctor looked things over and said for their severity the burns are actually looking pretty good at this point. So, he said that if I’m comfortable doing the dressing changes we could go home. I was shocked. Honestly, I think even the nurses were surprised! Just like no one thought we were staying earlier the day before, no one thought we were going home today. We thought we were there for at least 72 hours!
A bit skeptical, I asked him a ton of questions (including about surgery) and he said that we could still end up in surgery a few weeks down the road. But, for now, he’d just like to do the least invasive treatment and see how everything heals on its own. He said that with little ones and palm burns in general, surgery isn’t necessarily any more effective than what we’re doing. Plus, often times, skin grafts don’t take well on such small little parts (like his little tiny finger burns). This whole process is a waiting game –waiting to see if the burns have reached their full effect, waiting to see how this treatment will go, waiting to see how the healing process will go. So, he said we could play the waiting game there or at home. I chose home! Burn unit dressing changeThat’s what the hospital dressing change looked like (that’s me holding him). I considered going to med school and have all my pre-reqs done to be a nurse, so I got a little taste of what might have been today! 😉 The nurses taught me how to do everything on the worst hand. Then, they had me do his left hand on my own for practice. OT talked to me about the stretching I need to do with his right hand (which seems to be the most painful for him). Blah! baby brotherBut, we got to bring this sweet baby home in time for dinner! Honestly I’m a bit nervous about everything at home – having to do dressing changes twice a day, being the “bad” guys with the pain of the changes, avoiding infection, keeping the bandages on (he’s a pro at getting them off). It’s a bit overwhelming. But, I’ll take this stress over the stress of being in the hospital. We’ll be having regular check-ups at the burn clinic and if ay any point we’re concerned about his pain level, the way the burns look, etc, then they told us to just come on in!

So, while we’re not out of the woods in terms of seriousness and his healing, everyone is really hopeful that things will just continue well here at home! I know I’m certainly hoping that’s the case!

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I’m Sara, a mom to three adorable boys living in the Arizona desert. As a former teacher, I love sharing my passions with others. So, have a look around for creative inspiration about cooking, creating, celebrating, traveling with kids, and more everyday mom endeavors!


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46 Responses

  1. Oh Sara. Such heartbreak for him and for you. Where you are is never a place you want to be, but if you need it they are the best. Praying for you.

  2. I am so sorry this happened to your family! I will be thinking of your boy and wishing him a speedy recovery. I do want to thank you though for being brave enough to share your story. I just showed my husband what happened and I am sure we will ALL be much more vigilant when grilling with the kids around…be sharing you have educated at least one family. Thank you.

  3. Just saw this through home with the boys’s tweet. I feel for you and will be praying! My heart hurts for you all but thank God little ones are made so tough!

  4. Oh this makes my heart hurt so much! It really does only take a second. I cannot imagine how much it hurts to see those poor, pudgy baby hands. Keep us updated! Prayers and well wishes.

  5. Praying for you Sara. I can imagine how you are feeling, I felt similar ways when Ava had her head injury last Nov. Sitting in the ER was not fun. Praying for your family and for speedy recovery for Baby Brother.

  6. I’m so terribly sorry and I will continue to pray for your sons speedy recovery. Stay strong and don’t beat yourselves up too much, it was an accident.

  7. Sara I am glad that you guys are home now. I hope everything goes well. Let us know if you need anything we are happy to help if we can.


  8. This is heartbreaking to read and I can’t imagine what you are going through as parents. I’m so sorry this accident happened. Please reach out if you need anything at all. We’re all hoping for a good and speedy recovery! Hugs to you and your family.

  9. Sara and DH, I am so sorry this happened. My goodness those little ones can be QUICK. We do everything to prevent accidents and yet accidents can happen. It sounds like you are all I good hands at the burn center. And Baby Brother will be in good hands at home. Praying for a quick and full recovery with out surgery. Big hugs to all. Hang in there Mom and Dad.

  10. So sorry to hear about this heartbreak! I am saying a prayer for you and Baby Brother even as I write this. May God heal him (and your heart) quickly.

  11. Sara, I’m so sorry. When I was little my mom had to go through the same thing with me. I put my hand on an iron – an iron she was using for a sewing project that was on the highest setting. I had to be admitted to the hospital too. It happens to the best of us! 🙁

  12. Oh my poor baby! I can’t even imagine how you handled all that. I can’t even stop the tears and I’m just reading this. I hope baby boy heals okay. Lots of extra hugs for him. Keep us updated. Hugs mama!

  13. So sorry that you are going through this! We’ve had a similar experience although not as severe. It is just a horrible feeling! Hope he gets better soon!

  14. Sara, I am so very sorry to hear this happened to your baby. Unfortunately, I know exactly what you are going through. We are two months out. On August 4, my 12 mo, 1 week old baby (who was not yet walking) managed to pull open the oven door and burned his hands on the inside of the extremely hot door. He suffered 2nd degree burns on his left hand and 3rd degree burns on his right. Similar to your little guy, but covering even more of his hands and fingers. I blamed myself and cried for three weeks straight. But, these little people are so resilient! My guy is healing and yours will too!

    It sounds like you are getting fabulous care. The one thing I will say is stretch, stretch, stretch! We did not get a splint and were not told to stretch my son’s hand until about 3 or 4 weeks into the healing process and by then very thick strands of scar tissue had already begun to form. His right hand is now very tight and we may need surgery to cut open the scar tissue. 🙁

    If you ever want to talk about what you are going through and the healing process, feel free to contact me! I will be praying for you and your little man!

  15. Ok,, I have to leave another quick comment. I just looked at your pictures again. Please be encouraged that your little guy’s burns did not cross over the creases in his hand. (Technical term?). He should not have the same lack of mobility issues that my baby is facing. I know this is a terrible thing to go through, but he will get better, I promise!!!

  16. Soooo sorry for your family!! I came across this because i googled toddler burned hand. My son grabbed my curling iron yesterday! I can’t tell you how sick I am about it! He only has one 2nd degree burn on his index finger with a huge blister – I probably will not be fixing my hair or grilling for a while! I pray that your son has a smooth and speedy recovery!

  17. I am going through the same thing with my little girl. she climbed up and put both hands on the glass of my gas fireplace.
    I have my follow up tomorrow and am terrified about what they might find under her initial bandages. Thanks for sharing your story!

  18. I’m a nursing student at the University of South Florida and I came across your blog when googling burns for a research project. I work at a burn unit and I appreciate the step-by-step photos of your sweet little guy, along with the descriptions of each picture! I included a few photos in a presentation because this unfortunate story illustrates the perfect way to treat burn wounds like your son’s. I hope you don’t mind! I’ll be praying he has a quick recovery!

  19. Sara, we literally are going through the exact same thin with my 15 month old son. Suffered deep, severe second degree burns to both left and right hands, his right is also worse. We initially went to our local hospital, but then were rushed by ambulance to Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital in Orlando Florida because of circulation concerns.
    We spent three days there with regular meetings with burn specialist. On day three they removed the dead skin on his palms, then sent us home. We are continuing with appointments about every three to four days. Our next appointment we are doing the whirlpool therapy. Did your son ever do this? How long was his recovery time? When were you able to go without bandages?
    Also, if any other momma’s go through this scary time, it is so difficult to have these babies keep their bandages on! We found that put freshly washed socks over their bandages worked wonders!
    Sara, please contact me back. I know that this is an old post, but I have so many questions and I am still in freak out mode.

  20. My 1 year old daughter placed her hands on the front closed glass doors of her grandma’s beautiful electric push button fireplace sunday night. Her right hand looks similar to your sons and her left hand is very discolored w s blisters. Help please! ( : How is your son?? I must know

    1. I’m so sorry, Lacey. Thrilled to say that he is doing VERY well (now over 2 years later). Sending a detailed email response! 🙂

      1. I don’t know if you will see this but my 1 year old touched the hot stove today and her hand looks similar to your sons. I am devastated & of course it’s my fault for picking her up and sitting her beside the stove. Just a second is all it took. I was making her oatmeal and decided to feed her up on the counter since she was fussy. We go tomorrow morning for her follow up. Doctor at ER said it was superficial but it’s blistered up bad and looks like a second degree to me. I can’t stop feeling guilty and Like the worst mother on the planet. I’m just so sad & not sure how to get past the guilt.

  21. you are correct….it only takes a second. It happened to us too with our 2 year old. He is now 25 years old and in college and lives on his own.

    But i remember like yesterday. I was going from college to my evening shift. I was home alone getting ready for my evening shift at a department store. I plugged in the iron to warm and to iron a few wrinkles that were bugging in me on a blouse. I left it on the end table. I repeat…i was home alone. And in my mind…i was not going to pull out huge ironing board for a few wrinkles. I left the room to get the blouse out of the bedroom.

    My husband came in with our 2 year old who had been at daycare and I did not hear the front door open or shut. As soon as my husband put him on the floor…that little guy walked directly to one thing my husband did not notice new in the room…the plugged in iron! …to my son…it was shiny new object in the room. Kids notice everything.

    He put his little hand on it and let out a shreeking scream. I ran out of bedroom in shock grabbed my son…and immediately rushed him to the ER. I wasn’t dressed but I did not care. Doctors gave us the same thing your doctors did. I changed his bandages every night. And to this day…I do not curl or iron my hair even. And I never use an iron for anything. It is just an awful memory for me. It was so thoughtless of me to put the iron on the end table and walk away. And immediately brings me to tears.
    Thankfully my 25 year old says he does not remember a thing. He has questioned me about the small scar on his hand. And I told what happened. He jokingly says “Way to Go Mom”. And I jokingly say…”yeah…you are lucky you lived…you were my first”.
    I always put on happy face and smile trying to make it seem like I can laugh about it now with him…but deep down…I am not laughing or even smiling…and to this day…there is not one iron in my home. I am paranoid…even when I cook on the stove to this day. It’s a painful reminder for me and as I tear up writing this to share my story….I want everyone with children to remember it only takes a second. And don’t ever let your guard down around hot items.

  22. Hi… My baby recently grabbed a hot plate and consequently has burn blisters on his palm. Just wanted to know if these blisters leave a scarcer cause hyperpigmentation. If so if you did anything to prevent scarring? Will be of great help if I could get some guidance.

  23. This is a pretty old story, but nevertheless I want to thank you for writing this and sharing this with us. I hope you and your baby are doing well after all these years.

  24. This just happened to my son. Do you have an update of what happened later? I am worried about the long term effects on his hand

  25. Our 14 month old just burned his hand on a plate covering our front door threshold – crawled after me getting the mail. It was 91 degrees and the plate was in the sun – I had no idea it would be incredibly hot. His hand looks just like your picture, though fortunately no 3rd degree, but 1st and 2nd degree. I know this was a while ago, but would be so grateful if you’re willing to share an update.

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