Dr. Marianne Cinat, director of UC Irvine’s Regional Burn Center, says adults can take some simple and crucial steps to reduce the risk of fire pit burn injuries to children.

  • Don’t bury hot charcoals in sand. It might extinguish the flames, but coals can smolder for up to 24 hours – and sand locks in the heat. Sand-covered coals are a hidden hazard, especially to children who may view a fire pit as a sandbox. To safely extinguish coals, Cinat recommends drenching them in water, waiting five minutes and drenching them again. If water is not available, simply let the coals burn out – without burying them.
  • Be aware of your environment, especially with children around. Treat fire pits as you would a pool or anything else dangerous and exercise similar caution around them. Watch for embers emanating from fire pits. Always assume there are hot coals at the bottom of a fire pit, even if it appears not recently used.
  • If burned, don’t put ice on the skin. It can cause skin damage, especially in children, whose skin is thinner than adults’. Rinse the burn with cool water for up to 10 minutes, then cover it with a cool washcloth or towel.
  • Take the victim immediately to the nearest emergency room.