Mum, daughter suffer third degree burns in freak accident
A Perth mother and daughter have been left with third degree burns after an outdoor table decoration exploded engulfing them in flames.
Kate Collins and her five-year-old daughter Eva were at a friend's home on April 27 when the host went to refill a decorative glass ethanol burner sitting on the table.
As the burner, which the house owner thought was out, was being refilled flames shot back up into the bottle and exploded in a "massive fireball of liquid flame" immersing Kate and Eva.
"I was on fire. My clothes, my hair, everything. Being liquid fire it's so difficult to get out, it just kept reigniting," Kate tells Kidspot.
"As a child you're taught that if you're ever on fire to 'stop, drop and roll'. So I did, while frantically trying to smother the flames in my hair.
"I managed to strip all my clothes off and get the flames out. Then I heard someone yell that Eva had also been burned. My heart literally stopped."
Despite her own skin burning Kate raced into the backyard to help Eva by pouring water on her burns and reassuring her that everything was going to be okay.
"I knew how much pain I was in and knowing that she was feeling the same thing broke my heart," she says.
"As a parent you just want to be able to make things better and I knew I couldn't."
Once the paramedics arrived, Kate passed out. They took her to the Fiona Stanley Hospital and Eva was transported to the Perth Children's Hospital.
The woman who had been refilling the burner and another woman were also injured and taken to hospital.
The fierce flames left Kate and Eva with large third degree burns. Kate received burns to 15 per cent of her body, including her hands, arm and leg. While Eva suffered serious burns to 20 per cent of her body, including her arm, shoulder and torso.
Adding to the family's trauma was Eva nearly dying from sepsis which caused her body to start shutting down.
"She had emergency surgery so they could pump antibiotics into her faster in larger quantities. I'm so grateful for all the doctors and nurses who saved her that life that night," Kate says.
Making the recovery even more heartbreaking for Kate was having her daughter separated from her for 10 days.
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Our little miss Eva is battling through her challenges like a champion. We almost lost her the other night...she went septic in minutes and had a room full of people trying to save her life. I’m forever grateful to the docs and nurses - but even more so to my amazing husband who only leaves her side every 2nd day to come and see me. Yes, we’re both in the right places but it’s not all shits and rainbows 🌈 Her third surgery is tomorrow, any thoughts and prayers would be appreciated Kate xx
"My husband has been by her side 24/7 and will continue to be until she gets out in hopefully 2-3 weeks time," she says.
Kate has now been discharged after 17 days in the burns unit, but Eva is still in hospital and will have her fifth surgery since the accident on Thursday.
"She held my hand yesterday when I told her that I was going home and she said 'maybe you can take me with you?' it honestly broke my heart," Kate says.
While they are both slowly on the mend, the mum and daughter still face a long recovery including wearing compression garments 23 hrs a day for the next 18-24 months and regular physiotherapy.
"The pain of forcing burned joints to move is beyond describable," Kate shares in an Instagram post.
"The thought of doing this day after day is almost unbearable, but I'm going to keep fighting - because my daughter has this same long road to recovery and I need to be right there for her."
The two friends who also suffered burns spent a few days in hospital and have since returned home.
The injured mother-of-four has temporarily closed her online store, NatureBubz which sells handmade toys and soothers. Kate has been told it could take two years to regain her hand strength to make the products.
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Thankfully my face received minimal burning. Under both eyes, one ear and my nose are still bandaged with Duoderm but that should come off in a week or so. Wish I could say the same for my hands, arms and legs!!! The pain is indescribable......every day the physios push me for an hour in the gym and it honestly breaks me. I feel like I’ve lost myself and the thought of doing this day after day is almost unbearable, but I’m going to keep fighting - because my daughter has this same long road to recovery and I need to be right there for her, encouraging her to push through her pain so we can be whole again together. She has her third surgery scheduled for tomorrow - thoughts and prayers would be so appreciated xx
Her friends have set up a GoFundMe page to ease the financial stress.
The federal government enforced a ban on decorative alcohol-fuelled devices, also known as ethanol burners in 2017.
Kate warned her online followers about the dangers of these products and was stunned to hear many still had them in their homes.
"If we even save one family the horror and pain of third degree burns and years of recovery then it'll have been worth it," she says.
People commented they had thrown theirs out after hearing Kate's story.
One said, "We were gifted one of these years ago and have never used it.. it's going in the bin!"
Another said their neighbours had "a built-in one and the daughter had an accident with it and nearly burnt the house down".
Between 2010 and 2017 decorative burners have caused more than 100 injuries and at least 36 house fires across Australia. There have also been at least three deaths that occurred overseas.
This originally appeared on Kidspot and has been republished with permission.