Burned: Teen shares cooking dangers

FOX Medical Team

Burned: Teen shares cooking dangers

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Lauren Davis is 14, a competitive cheerleader, and a smart kid, who learned a very tough lesson. Wearing a black compression glove that covers her badly burned left hand, she says, “I learned to never leave the kitchen while you're cooking. It happened very fast. In less than a minute."

At her family’s Lithonia home, the fire-damaged kitchen is being completely rebuilt. But, what happened here on Easter Sunday is still fresh. Lauren’s mother Robyn was out running an errand. Lauren, the youngest of three, was home alone, getting ready for Easter dinner at her grandmother’s house. She says, "I was hungry, so I decided to make fries, right after I finished doing my hair. So, I came downstairs."

She poured grease into a skillet, turned on the burner, then ran up to her bedroom to turn off her straightening iron. She says she was only upstairs for a minute or two. But, when she got back downstairs, gesturing at the kitchen, she says, “All this was smoke. So I reached over to turn it (the burner) off. And when I reached over to turn it off, it went into flames."

Then, just as quickly, the flames in the skillet dropped. So, Lauren says, “I picked it up and tried to put it in the sink, and I didn't make it to the sink, it dropped right here. On the ground. So, I tried to move away from it and I slipped into the grease. And I burned my leg and my knee. And I burned my hand."

Lauren says, “The floor was actually on fire, the floor was on fire!."

Lauren ran next door for help, and a neighbor put out the fire and called 911 as her skin began to blister. Soon, she was in an ambulance, headed for Grady Memorial Hospital. Lauren suffered second and third degree burns on her left hand and both legs.

Her mom, Robyn Davis, a teacher, learned her own lesson that day. She says "She knew all the rules and the safety. But when she went into "panic mode," she just threw all that out the window."

Lauren spent a week in Grady's Burn Unit, undergoing surgery to place a temporary skin over her burned skin.

The pain was terrible. She says, “I can't even explain that pain. That was the worst pain I've ever went through."

And Dr. Walter Ingram, Director of Grady's Burn Unit, says home-alone cooking accidents like Lauren's happen more often than many people realize. He says, “Teach your kids kitchen safety, early. Because you can't just say, "Don't go in the kitchen." They're going to do it anyway."

Dr. Ingram says teach teens to never leave the kitchen, even for a moment, when they have something cooking on the stove top. He says, "Have a fire extinguisher available and visible. Teach them not to carry grease anywhere. Never pick up burning grease. Never pick it up... the grease gets this, where it's just boiling, almost. And they pick it up, more air gets to it and it bursts into flames! And that scares people to death! They throw it or drop it!"

Dr. Ingram says if grease catches fire, turn the burner off, if you can reach it the knob, and use your fire extinguisher. Whatever you do, he says, “Don't throw water on it. Don't try to carry it anywhere, especially to the sink."

Lauren Davis knows that, now. She and her mom also know how lucky Lauren is. Robyn Davis says, “She was very blessed, because it could have been a lot worse."

Lauren face a year of outpatient therapy at Grady. She’s back to cheerleading, but has to be careful not to overdo it. She’s hoping her story will encourage other teenagers to pay attention, and take basic safety precautions, when they’re cooking.

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