Post courtesy of WECT.com
Location: Montgomery, AL
Date Of Injury: March 2012
A Montgomery girl severely burned in a backyard accident hopes her ordeal will help increase safety awareness as the Fourth of July approaches.
Lovely Bruce has had 60 surgeries to treat third degree burns that cover nearly half of her body.
“She got injured from her face, her left side, her chest, all the way down her stomach, her left leg and her right thigh,” her mother, Jacquetta Bruce, said.
The 10-year-old lives in the Southlawn area of Montgomery and keeps a positive attitude, despite all she’s been through. She has found strength in sharing messages of self love and confidence online to others dealing with injuries and illness.
Four years ago, she was severely injured by flames from a chiminea, a type of outdoor fireplace with a round body and a tall narrow part through which the smoke can escape.
The night before the incident, Lovely and all her relatives made s’mores at the chiminea, located in her mother’s backyard. The children all had adult supervision.
On the day of the accident in March 2012, Lovely was outside playing on her scooter. Her brother was supposed to be cutting grass. The children asked to make s’mores in the chiminea again but were told no.
Jacquetta says her son put gas in the chiminea to start a fire with Lovely nearby. The wind blew the flames towards her, igniting her clothes.
Their mother heard Lovely’s horrifying screams and ran out of the house, quickly turning on the hose to extinguish the fire that had engulfed her little girl’s body.
“I never felt that much pain in my life until then,” Lovely said.
Lovely’s road to recovery will be a long one. She travels to Shriners Hospital in Cincinnati for treatment and is home schooled as she continues to heal and travel back and forth from doctor’s appointments and procedures.
Her mother says she never thought that buying the chiminea for the yard and fun family gatherings would have led to such a traumatic event.
“It was my worst nightmare,” she said.
As the Fourth of July approaches and families gear up for barbeques and fireworks, and maybe even spend some time around the fire pit, Lovely and her mother want others to be careful in the midst of all the fun.
“Don’t think that you have control over fire. Fire has way more control over you than you do over it. Be safe about using any type of fire: matches, firecrackers, using gas, anything that can ignite a fire,” Jacquetta Bruce said. “An accident can happen so quickly.”
“Messing around with dangerous stuff is not cool or funny,” Lovely said to other kids.
Lovely will need more surgeries in the future. An online fund has been set up to help with her medical expenses, transportation and education. You can donate by clicking here.
“I’m going to let the Lord guide me in the right path so I can heal,” she said.
State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk also stressed safety with fireworks and grills during July Fourth celebrations and throughout the summer months.
Each year on July Fourth, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using fireworks.
The risk of injuries from fireworks is highest for children ages 5-14.
More than 80% of emergency room fireworks injuries involve fireworks consumers are permitted to use.
Consumer fireworks include sparklers and firecrackers. The tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to caused third degree burns. Glass melts at 900 degrees Fahrenheit and wood burns at 575 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fire Marshal Paulk says those who use fireworks must stay more than 600 feet away from any building and should make sure that the area being used is clear.
Make sure that you have available water. Set fireworks on a sound surface, especially those that launch into the air and keep pets and small children away from the area so that the fireworks aren’t knocked over and can’t shoot towards a group of people.
Wear eye protection and cotton clothing. Nylon clothing, when exposed to heat and fire, will melt, Paulk said.
Only buy fireworks from a licensed dealer.
For those in areas that do allow the use of fireworks, stay 600 feet away from any building and never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully ignited.
It is illegal to set off fireworks in Montgomery city limits.
July is also the peak month for grill fires.
More than half of home grill structure fires begin on either a courtyard terrace or patio, or an exterior balcony or open porch.
Roughly half of the injuries involving grills are thermal burns.
Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area and never leave your grill unattended.
“Please keep children away from grills, even grills that are burning and cooking. They’re extremely hot and if something happens and the grill turns over on the children, it will create devastating injuries. Be careful and use good common sense and have a safe weekend,” Paulk said.
Acting Alabama State Forester Dan Jackson encouraged people to be cautious with outdoor fires such as grills, campfires, and fireworks.
“Wildfires do not discriminate. They do not stop at property boundaries. They can quickly spread out of control, threatening not only forestland, but lives and property as well,” he said in a statement.
Forestry officials recommend that you avoid shooting fireworks in or near dry grass, leaves or other combustible materials. Thoroughly soak the area with water where fireworks are to be discharged and have a garden hose or source of water nearby.
The same preventative measures apply when using charcoal grills. Do not dump hot coals in, near, or around dry grass, leaves or other flammable materials. Do not bury hot coals. Allow briquettes to cool completely or soak with lots of water. Stir them and then soak them again to make sure that they are cold to the touch.
If a fire does start, do not attempt to fight it yourself. Call 911 immediately and wait in a safe place for firefighters to arrive.
“With the increased wildfire activity we’ve recently witnessed out West, Alabama has the potential to experience the same type disaster,” Jackson added. “We’re asking the public to know the fire safety rules and help us protect our communities.”
If you can help Lovely please click HERE.