Featured Journal Motherhood

Warning To All Parents – Please Check Your Water Temperature (Part 2)

Written by Her View From Home

Editor’s note:  Sara shares the moment that the accident happened in part one:  Click here for Part One of Winston’s Story

And for more about Winston Today (August 22nd, 2014) click here.

The doctor said “40% of his body has been burned.”

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With my nursing background I knew that 40% on a fragile baby could be life threatening. Right away the doctor called for a helicopter to fly Winston to the nearest burn unit; which was in Lincoln, Nebraska. Minutes felt like hours. It was taking forever for them to respond. John and I were not going to be able to ride with Winston in the helicopter because of the size. We had to send our son alone.

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We were trying to make a rational decision on how we were going to get to Lincoln. Of course in a small town, news travels faster that news happens. My father- in-law, my husband’s grandparents and aunt and uncle were outside the room standing in the hallway. John’s dad had made a phone call. My father-in-law and John had acquired a relationship with the owners of an ariel service through farming and flying lessons; they were available to fly us to Lincoln if we wanted. We said good bye to Winston as they strapped him onto a gurney and put him into the helicopter. He was screaming and bawling the entire time. We “flew” (in our suburban) another 30 miles to the airfield. There was a plane already to go and pilot waiting. The flight to Lincoln was short in real time but forever in my mind. Once again an example of time in slow motion.

We arrived at the Lincoln airport minutes before the helicopter reached the hospital. When we arrived a St. Elizabeth’s Regional Center, there was no one to talk to; everything was taking forever! After about an hour we found someone, Eric was his name.

“He is in surgery, the doctor will be out to speak with you soon.”

“What? We can’t see him?”

I was in such a state of anger and fear and so many other emotions.  The doctor came in to the waiting room to speak to us. He explained that Winston was getting finished up in the surgery room with the porcine (a pig skin wrap). Of course he needed to know how Winston was burned. He needed to contact social services per protocol. I explained how it all happened, attempting to hold back tears as I am talking to this very intimidating man. He went on to explain that it takes several minutes under hot water for a burn like this to happen; insinuating that he was under hot water for a very long time and where was I?

I was already feeling like the worst mother of the year, but at that moment, I was at my worst. I was at my lowest point.

And then defensive. Did he know how much water pressure was coming out at once? Did he know that our water was extremely hot? Did he know anything about us? Here I am in loose sweats and a baggy t-shirt and John with sawdust all over in his hair and dirty work clothes on. What was his impression of us? Did he think we were irresponsible parents? Maybe we were. Maybe the worst. At least that was how I was feeling at that very moment.  Everything else that doctor said to us was a blur. I just wanted to see my son. I just wanted to hold him.

Warning To All Parents - Please Check Your Water Temperature (Part 2) www.herviewfromhome.com

He told us that he was worried that our son was so calm during the entire process; and usually less pain meant third degree burns. He went on to say that the burns only looked second degree in most places so the porcine was applied to all the burns, but it would not hold to any areas that were third degree burns. We would only know more in time. Time, more time.

Finally after waiting in the waiting area for over an hour we were able to go back to the Burn unit’s ICU. There in the room were two nurses. A female nurse introduced us to the room and a male nurse was sitting in the chair cuddling and rocking my baby. Winston was now completely wrapped in dressings, laying on the nurses chest asleep. I felt warmth when we entered that room; warm hearts from those nurses. I knew they cared from the very second we entered. They were not there to judge me or John as parents, they were not asking questions about what happened. They were just there to do their best to comfort Winston and us.

They asked us right away, “how are you guys holding up?” I knew we were in good hands. When he handed Winston to me everything played through my mind again as it had been over and over for the last several hours, wishing I could turn back time and do things differently. I looked at his face covered in dressings, It was so swollen. I was heart broken. How could I let something like this happen? How could I be such an awful parent to turn my back on a baby in the tub. What was I thinking?  Our nurse was there to comfort us though.

Warning To All Parents - Please Check Your Water Temperature (Part 2) www.herviewfromhome.com

John and I will never forget Annie.

We had so many questions and she spent so much time explaining things to us and comforting us. As the time passed Winston’s face swelled up even more. I could do nothing. I was helpless. The nurses had been giving him morphine from the time we arrived in Franklin so I at least got some comfort in knowing his pain was somewhat at ease. But the swelling continued to get worse. He had a splint on his arm and leg so he was unable to move much. I just sat with him in the chair staring at him replaying the day in my head over and over. I was relieved when my mom and dad arrived that evening. When I am feeling really bad, my parents really are what I want. My mom to comfort me and my dad to make me smile. Don’t get me wrong, John was doing a great job. But he was grieving too. I needed someone else to take over that part of it.

Warning To All Parents - Please Check Your Water Temperature (Part 2) www.herviewfromhome.com

I remember that night I slept with him in the chair all night long; attempting to nurse him with any whimper he made. He was able to nurse some but I could tell the swelling around his lips was getting much worse.  When Annie asked me how I slept I told her “awful, my body is so stiff, but I don’t want to complain because look at him.”

Winston was finally able to lay in the crib for short periods of time, but I couldn’t stop worrying about his swelling. The nurse kept telling us it would go down and that we would be surprised. Another physician came in that morning to assess Winston. He was not as harsh as the first doctor. He did tell us if the swelling did not go down enough for him to eat they were going to have to put a tube in him to feed him. I tried several times that day to nurse him. I pumped and tried to feed him a bottle. He barely had the energy to let out a moan when I moved him too much, let alone try to eat. His lips were so swollen, he was breathing in and out of a pin hole.

I will never forget the moment that John turned the music on on his iPad and Winston wiggled his body as best as he could. It brought tears to my eyes. Only a child would find such joy in something so small when he was hurt.

The time at the hospital was much shorter than John and I anticipated. We were getting dismissed on Friday and we had just arrived on that Wednesday. Winston’s swelling had begun to decrease and he was able to nurse again. Still no solid foods but I was happy he was getting some nutrition. My sister from Phoenix was on her way home to stay with us to help us out. She was exceptional, we couldn’t have done it all with out her.  We missed the girls so much and were excited to see them when we got home. We didn’t explain a lot to them on the phone so I don’t think they knew what to expect. Macy’s reaction when she saw him was worse than I expected. “Mom he looks terrible” she said crying and ran upstairs. Audrey wanted to give him some stuffed animals.

I remember saying to John, “it would be so easy for you to be mad at me and blame me for all of this. How are you not blaming me and saying what were you thinking Sara!” He responded “What good is it going to do to be mad at you, accidents happen, that’s why they call them accidents” and he put his arms around me as I cried.

I cried so much during those first weeks.

After our follow up that Monday we were to do dressing changes twice daily.  Each dressing change Erin (my sister) would have all the supplies laid out and ready. She held his hand and sang to him while he screamed as I washed away dead skin from the open areas.  Each change took an hour or more.  They were such a process; I couldn’t understand how anyone with out a nursing background would possibly be able to handle this. A week went by and we returned to Lincoln to have the rest of the porcine removed.  They did seemed surprised at how quickly he was healing. A child so young regenerates skin cells so much faster than an adult.

“Lotion the skin often to keep it moist and we will see you in a month” said Roy, the PA.

Winston seemed to be getting back to himself, moving around a little more and even started walking January 9th, on his one year birthday! We were starting to get back to normal again; Erin had gone home and we were back in motion. John and I even went out one night. There was a lot of “talk” going on about what went wrong and how Winston’s accident happened, maybe it was too soon to go out in public. Too many people to judge you. We were better off staying home. Winston was still not sleeping well at night but it was going to get better I just knew it. He was irritable. Dermatitis appeared on his arm, and there was a point I was even worried about cellulitis.

Warning To All Parents - Please Check Your Water Temperature (Part 2) www.herviewfromhome.com

We have a long battle to fight with this. It is easy for people to forget and think that it is all over for us but it isn’t. It’s a battle everyday. I spend several minutes 4-6 times a day massaging his scars hoping to reduce them and hoping this will help with the irritation. There is a possibility that Winston may need skin grafting during his growth spurts usually around ages 11 and 15. I pray that this vest we are getting will reduce the scarring enough that future skin grafting will not be necessary.  I pray to God every day that Winston will get better and all of this will be behind us.

Warning To All Parents - Please Check Your Water Temperature (Part 2) www.herviewfromhome.com

So much of my time is spent wondering what he will have to endure through his life with this history. Will people pull away when they have to shake his scarred hand? Will the scarring affect his writing or basketball? Will he have a hard time finding a wife because of his facial scarring? Will people constantly be staring? Will kids make fun of him in school? Will it affect his job? Will he remember to take special care of his skin in the sun? There is so much that goes through my mind everyday. He is such a strong little guy already at the age of one. He has endured so much already. I pray that the worst is behind him.

We all want the best for our children but you don’t realize how much you want that for them until something messes it all up. God has a plan for us. Please tell everyone you know about Winston. It may help someone.

 Do you know how to change the temperature in your home? I had no idea. And it’s not something that has a thermometer on it. You have to turn it with a screwdriver, wait and then test your water temperature. I had not actually tested the water temp, I just knew it was hot to touch.  It doesn’t matter now why the water was turned up too hot; it just was. 

For more information on how to check your water temperature, please read this.  


Warning To All Parents - Please Check Your Water Temperature (Part 2) www.herviewfromhome.com


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  • I to have been down this road with my now 10 year old son. When he was 11 months old the got a chair and pulled his dads very hot cup of coffee on himself getting 2nd degree burns on his face, arm and stomach, I rushed his into a cold shower while my husband called my mom (we were visiting her and my sisters) cause I had no idea were the hospital was at. I thank God that he was young when it happened cause he has no memory of it or the scraping of the dead skin and has no lasting scars. Prayers for your family.

  • Oh Sara this is such a scary, moving story. I’m sorry that any of it happened but like John said “That’s why they call them accidents”. I pray that God wrap his loving arms around you and comfort you. Things like this happen, take it easy on yourself, forgive yourself. We all as moms have turned around for just a moment, walked out to answer the phone, it happens. Winston is such a cute little boy and has a love of life in his eyes. I thank God that his parents are so loving of their children and each other. That will take you along way. God bless you all!

    • Sara and John, my husband Matt and I feel your pain. I read this story and just started to cry as we have been there before, with our son, Gage. At age 3 he was playing in the yard as my husband was mowing the grass. I was with my daughter at dance practice. Long story short he ended up behind the mower and Matt did not see or hear him and backed up 1 foot and his left foot was cut by the blade. We have felt the same worries and fears as you have. He got to keep his foot and did have a skin graft and by a miracle from God he is doing well, but we will never know his future. I never blamed my husband either, because it was an accident and he struggles with the guilt every day as well. Keep the faith and cherish every moment together as a family. God Bless you.

      Holli from Kansas

  • Hi Sara, just remember that what you are doing matters. Your strength, your wisdom, your love, your hope, your courage, and your presence are the greatest gifts you can give your child. Don’t forget that, and don’t be discouraged. This could have happened to anyone. Prayers to all of you 🙂

  • Oh Sara!!! As a mother of 4 and grandmother of 3 wonderful blessings, my heart pours out to you.
    We ALL have done “stupid” things that could very easily ended in tragedy, we were just lucky.

  • Sara he looks so good! I hadn’t realized the degree of the burns… I didn’t notice the scars in the beach pics when you posted them originally. I really do think of your story each time I give Bennit a bath & when I run out of hot water in the shower…I think I should turn up the hot water…then I think no, accidents happen. Thank you so much for sharing…

  • Oh Sara you have had me in tears for two days now you are such a strong woman and Winston is a very strong little boy I had no idea everything you went guys went thought i feel bless just knowing that my kids will get to know there little cousin it’s so easy to take things for granted your road my be a rough one but you have made the best of it I love you guys

  • Sara it is a true honor to know you and God certainly chose the right woman to be the amazing parent you are…hardships happen to those who are strong and able to pull through not because you should go through them but because you come through stronger! I love your spirit and your children are very blessed to call you~ Mom 🙂

  • Again, thank you for sharing your story. You’re human and a good Mom. Our prayers are with you all!! God bless!

  • I just read your story posted on Facebook through a friend-
    I cried reading it and my heart is just breaking for you. I want you to know that I will be praying for you and your family. I am amazed at how good Winston looks- but will continue to remember all he has ahead of him with continued healing. God the great physician is working in his little body- amazing!!
    Take care and thanks for sharing your story- I know it took courage and a huge amount of strength.

  • Sara and John, so glad you are putting this out there…I told everyone I know who has little ones so they would ck there water temps. We had a near burn in a sink on the farm in Chapman…called the landlord who called the plumber who said it was about ready to blow up..they have better controls on that now I am sure…but I am sure all should ck it regularly. I am proud of you and how you have handled this..God does have a plan for all of us, and we just have to pray that if we cannot know the why or how, we can accept that it is his plan and there is a reason. your efforts to inform others is sure to touch someone’s life…trust in it…It is a blessing to me to have such a great family as yours as part of mine. Love and prayers from Aunt Sharol

  • It is always amazing how quickly a normal day can turn tragic. I remember my mom telling me about this when it happened but, like everyone else, I don’t think I realized how bad the injuries were until I read your story. Sara you are a wonderful mother and the courage it had to take to share this story, especially after some of the negative reactions you have received, is amazing. Winston looks great and is as adorable as his sisters!

  • You don’t know me, but I knew who you were when I first started reading this. It was close to Christmas when I heard about little Winston from your father-in-law. Same thing happened to my brother, and my Mom shares the same feelings and guilt you have. The doctor on call was from Denver. He thought they were just some hicks that abused their child. Even after the inadequate care this doctor initially provided I want to tell you this accident didn’t interfere with the rest of my brother’s life. He played sports in high school, he is married, he has a good job, and he has never blamed my mom for his scars. Winston is a tough boy with a loving Mom, Dad, and family….his future doesn’t look too bad. 🙂 I saw his burns, but what sticks in my mind is his adorable smile. That smile will definitely work to his favor. Thank you for sharing your story. I often wondered how this little man and his Mom were doing.

  • Prayers for Winston and your entire family. What a tearful situation. I am so sorry for all you have had to endure.

  • How many times as mothers do we d things and think, “What was I thinking?!” I let both of my children play in the tub while I get ready and until now haven’t thought much of it. I’m right here, what could happen? Thank you so much for sharing your story and I will pray for your little boy and for you. You sound like an awesome mom to me. Unfortunately we’re human too. 🙂

  • Sara and family, Thank you so much for sharing your story. I so hope people read it and remember how fast accidents can happen. I will cont. to keep you all in my prayers.

  • I recently went through a similar situation with my 5 year old daughter. She burned her right hand on our flat stove burner. It happened so fast. I literally turned for one second and that’s when she lost balance on her step stool and put her hand in the middle of the burner to brace herself. She had second degree burns over her entire palm. I felt horrible so don’t be so hard on yourself. These things happen in the blink of an eye. Prayers to you and your family and for a speedy recovery for Winston.

  • Again thanks for sharing your story. I pray he continues to heal and things get easier for you all. He has the most handsome smile and that is pure sunshine!!! Thoughts and prayers!!

  • This is amazing! So many positive comments on here and on Facebook. And so many “shares” I never imagined Winston’s story reaching so many. Thank you all for your kind words and for helping to spread the word about safe water temperatures! You will never know how much your comments mean to this family and how much you are helping us to get through this. Thank you thank you!!!

  • Sara and John, thank you for sharing your story. Everyday accidents happen and maybe they happen for a reason..to make us aware of how much faith, family and community are apart of our lives when such horrible, scarey things happen. All three groups pull together to give help, strength, and support. I can see by the wonderful smile on little Winston’s face, that he will have no problems charming the girls when he gets older! I will keep your family in my prayers and hope the next year brings loads of blessings on your beautiful little boy, and his precious sisters, who obviously love their baby brother, by the looks on their faces in the beach picture. The Lord never gives us more than he knows we can handle….Keep the faith!

  • So sorry you all have to go through this. I pray God will give you strength and will bless Winston and his sisters in the future.

  • Sara,
    Winston, John and you were a pleasure to meet, but unfortunate circumstances. You are not the first and won’t be the last to have an ACCIDENT so tragic happen. I am so thankful that Winston healed so nicely. The power of prayer is magical. You are an amazing mother and person. Thanks for sharing your story, and I hope it can help prevent others from the same incident.

  • Your story about Winston brought me to tears. I pray that all of you are doing well. I am sure I know the Eric you spoke of. You were all extremely lucky to have him holding your son. He is a wonderful person who loves children.

  • John, Sara, Winston & all your family; may God continue to bless your beautiful family! To the “greatest burn team”, I was so lucky to know & work with you! Keep holding the babies & hugging the families, modeling care, love, support & forgiveness- all so necessary for healing those seen and unseen wounds!

  • I’m so sorry this happened! I can completely understand how it happened, and please know that you have helped a lot of people avoid it themselves (and it so easily could have been any of us).

    I don’t personally have experience with this, but my brother pulled a put of nearly-boiling water on himself when he was about 18 months old (my mother had been sick, and my father had boiled some water for her to sit over, and turned for a moment to ask her something when it happened). He had 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree burns on the side of his neck, arm, and torso. He does still have some scarring, but he has healed up very well and it has not affected his life at all. I hope the same for Winston!

  • Dear Lord, Mama. I’m so sorry. I can’t finish reading, the pictures are too much. I can’t believe how much you all must hurt. I’m so so sorry. So much love to you all.

  • I’m not sure who the writer is, but maybe she’ll see this? One, I just wanted to say, I feel deeply for you! You’re a good Mama and I’m sorry about the judgement from people who have no idea what they’re talking about. Two, I have seen amazing results from applying wheat germ oil on scars during the massage time each day, even large scale scars. I worked for a chiropractor and he used the brand standard process. Idk if you are interested in suggestions, but I thought I would share incase! Hugs to you, Mama. None of us are immune to accidents!