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Mother of Burn Patient Encourages Kitchen Safety During Burn Awareness Week

Kaitlyn shares her son's story to encourage burn safety in the kitchen during burn awareness week.

In December 2021, Kohen, an active 1½-year-old, grabbed onto the cord of a nearby rice cooker while sitting at his high chair in the kitchen.

Like many curious toddlers, he yanked down on the cord, dumping its contents into his lap and causing third- and fourth-degree burns to his abdomen and thighs. Kohen was rushed to the nearest hospital’s emergency room.

“It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through,” said Kohen’s mother Kaitlyn. “After the accident we completely reorganized our kitchen and moved his high chair far away from appliances, counters and anything with a cord. Our kitchen is a complete safety-zone now.”

Kaitlyn will never look at her kitchen the same and hopes that by sharing her story, she inspires more parents of young children to create a safe kitchen environment in their homes. She encourages parents to read the tips and tricks on Shriners Children’s Be Burn Aware page to keep children burn-free.

Here are a few kitchen safety tips to use at home:

  • Turn pot and pan handles toward the back of the oven top and place on back burners out of reach of children
  • Wear short sleeves or roll up sleeves when cooking
  • Keep something, such as a lid or cookie sheet, nearby to cover a pan if it catches fire
During such a difficult time, everyone at Shriners Children’s was amazing and went above and beyond to make sure Kohen was always as comfortable as possible.

Pediatric Burn Care for Kohen

“The doctors at the emergency room told us that because Kohen is so young and the burns were so severe, we should take him to Shriners Children’s because the burn team specializes in both kids and burn care,” said Kaitlyn.

Kohen, the big blue-eyed boy with a contagious smile, was stabilized and two days later transferred to the Shriners Children’s Northern California burn unit. Northern California Burn Surgeon Kathleen Romanowski, M.D., performed an excision and skin grafting on Kohen, and child life specialists provided physical and emotional support as they worked to ultimately give Kohen the best chance of healing and full functionality he had prior to the accident.

“During such a difficult time, everyone at Shriners Children’s was amazing and went above and beyond to make sure Kohen was always as comfortable as possible,” said Kaitlyn. “The child life specialists were especially wonderful. When Kohen would need to have his dressings changed, they would distract him with bubbles or anything that made him more comfortable.”

Kaitlyn, Kohen and their family experienced Shriners Children’s wraparound care model. Everything they needed could be done without ever leaving the facility.

Kohen also got to experience the holiday tradition Good Night Lights – a community effort held every Tuesday night in December where local police and firefighters gather in front of the hospital, turn on their lights, and say goodnight to patients.

“The firefighters extended their ladder outside the hospital room window and climbed up to wave goodnight to the kids,” said Kaitlyn. “It was really special.”

Shriners Children’s Northern California has the region’s only dedicated pediatric burn program verified by the American Burn Association (ABA) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS).

The hospital is equipped to treat burn injuries of all degrees. From life-threatening burns to the smallest fingertip burn, the pediatric burn unit’s internationally noted team of burn and plastic surgeons work alongside dedicated caregivers to provide the care and rehabilitation children need.

Kohen is currently recovering from his burns. A seamstress with the occupational and physical therapy team has sewn him a personalized burn compression garment to decrease pain during healing, protect his fragile skin and prevent scarring. He will continue to be monitored closely by the pediatric burn team until he makes a full recovery.

Wraparound Pediatric Burn Care

Kaitlyn, Kohen and their family were provided everything they needed at the hospital, so they didn't have to leave the building.

Kohen smiling

Kohen at home in his play area.

Kohen sitting in a little red wagon with pacifier in mouth

Kohen at the hospital taking a wagon ride in the activity pavilion.

Burn awareness and prevention

Americans leave lit candles within reach of children
Be Burn Aware
Americans don't turn pot handles toward the back of the stove to prevent children from grabbing them
Be Burn Aware

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