Lifestyle & Human Interest

Trip to Beach Becomes Family's Nightmare After 3-Yr-Old Son Rushed To ER with Burns, Almost Loses Toes


There are common dangers on trips to the beach that parents worry about, and you do your best to keep your children safe and out of harm’s way.

You fill our bags with sunscreen, bring floaties and life jackets, and plenty of water to keep your family hydrated.

But, all the planning in the world can’t prepare you for every scenario. What happens when a trip is suddenly shattered by the blood-curdling screams of your child, and the reason is beyond any expectations?

There might be a danger hidden beneath the sand that no one is prepared for. A danger that was so shocking that one family is now on a mission to warn others so their child isn’t next.

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After recently hearing about a man experiencing the same trauma that her son went through in 2013, Katja Kafling Wichmann of Denmark shared a photo of her son’s feet on Facebook that quickly went viral. She knew that others needed to be warned.

It started like any other trip to the beach. Her son, Jakob, was 3 years old at the time, and she watched as he played joyfully in the sand.

But moments later, she was rushing her son to the emergency room. Her little boy’s feet had been burned so badly that the skin was falling off.

Hiding beneath the sand’s surface were burning embers. Most likely from a fire that someone had the evening before at the beach and they had retained their heat.

Beachgoers often use sand to cover the remnants of their fires and assume that’s sufficient enough to cool it down or put it out.

According to Dr. Marianne Cinat of UCI’s Regional Burn Center, the opposite occurs and that “sand locks in heat, making smoldering coals even hotter.”

In the case of the Wichmann family, young Jakob’s burns were so severe he almost lost his toes. Doctors used skin from the young boy’s thighs to graft and repair his feet.

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After nearly a year of hospital visits, terrible physical pain, and rehabilitation, her 7-year-old son is a happy and thriving little boy. But his feet were left permanently scarred.

The family realizes that the person who left the burning embers probably didn’t do it maliciously, but rather, was unaware of their hidden dangers. That’s why it’s important to share Jakob’s story to help warn others.

Next time you’re at the beach and see someone burying the remains of their fire with sand, please instruct them to use water instead. With education and awareness, we can all do our part to keep others safe.

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Keeley is a former contributor to The Western Journal.
Keeley is a former contributor to The Western Journal.