Emily Stass was crawling up an open-backed chair in August 2013 when she accidentally spilled a kettle of boiling water on the kitchen counter. Her father was walking through the door the moment it happened, while her mother was several feet away in the next room.
Impacting primarily on her right thigh, water splashed on to Emily’s tummy and into her lap. It also burned her knee.
“Anything can happen at any time,” said Feorinda Stass, Emily’s mother. “It just happened so fast. I would say to anyone be really careful, especially with burning water, and let people know if that’s what you’re doing.”
Stass is still emotional about the day’s event, and hopes to encourage others to practice safety during Burn Awareness Week, which runs from February 1 to 7.
“I was freaking out. When you’re canning tomatoes and you blanch the skin off and drop them in boiling water, well, that’s what was going on,” she said.
Emily said she went into shock en route to the hospital.
“By the time I got to the hospital it felt like I was kind of asleep. And I felt like I woke up in the hospital with people helping me, and Mom and Dad were there,” she said.
Emily eventually spent over a month in a Vancouver hospital recuperating, received skin grafts and treatment, and then attended a special camp for burn victims. And though her scars are quite visible, she doesn’t feel self-conscious about them.
“It’s just a natural part of my body, because when I got my skin grafts that’s what happened. It’s just natural,” she said.
Feorinda said she’s proud to see how quickly and completely Emily has bounced back, though she has a harder time.
Outgoing fire chief Simon Grypma recently donated $1000 along with all the professional firefighters in Nelson to go towards funding burn camps for burn victims like Emily.
“Most burns leave lifetime scars. Children growing up face the fact they’re now sporting these scars, which in some cases are very visible. One of the benefits of this camp is they learn how to accept their new physical appearance and how to accept the reaction from other children and adults.”
Grypma said he’s seen children burned by fireworks, burning water, gasoline and even from sticking silverware into electrical outlets. In one instance he met a little girl who was splashed with burning alcohol that burned the inside of her mouth.
“When she was describing that, poor thing. She was 5-years-old when I was at the hospital with her, when she told me there was fire in her mouth.”
Grypma said that particular girl attended fire camp and is now doing well.
“I really believe in that burn camp and that’s why I put my money towards the fund,” he said.