Washington’s youngest “state trooper” reminds others about fire pit safety

Washington’s youngest “state trooper” reminds others about fire pit safety

By: HIPRC Date: June 30th, 2017
Shane Dutton, right, was a "state trooper for a day" at Harborview Medical Center, and spent some of his time telling the story of his injuries.
Shane Dutton, right, was a “state trooper for a day” at Harborview Medical Center, and spent some of his time telling the story of his injuries. Photo from King 5.

Three-year-old burn patient Shane Dutton isn’t waiting until he’s grown up to help people lead safer lives. As a recent “State Trooper for a Day” – his dream job – he patrolled Harborview Medical Center’s UW Medicine Regional Burn Center, watching for “bad guys” and reminding his fellow patients of the importance of fire safety.

In June, Dutton fell into a fire pit, sustaining second- and third-degree burns that have kept him at Harborview for weeks. He’s undergone surgery as well as multiple skin grafts.

“When I was running I accidentally fall over the bricks into the fire pit,” he explained to another Harborview patient in a story by King 5.

Dutton’s story about how he was burned is a common one. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were more than 3,000 injuries from outdoor patio heaters and fire pits in 2012.

Fire pits offer opportunities for summer togetherness, and a few simple but important steps can help ensure the memories around the fire pit are happy ones.

Fire Pit Safety Tips:

  • Locate fire pits on flat ground well away from overhanging structures or trees.
  • Keep buckets of sand or a garden hose nearby for fire control as well as a fire blanket and a fire extinguisher.
  • If the fire pit has a screen, use it.
  • Position chairs and furniture so people can move around the fire pit easily.
  • Use built-in seating or heavy furniture to discourage moving closer to the fire.
  • Avoid lighting fires in windy conditions.
  • Never use lighter fluid or gasoline as accelerants in a fire pit.
  • Keep kids at least 3 ft. away from the flames.

Dutton’s family says they hope their story will encourage others to take extra precautions around fire pits this summer.

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