Toddler's Horrific Beach Accident Left the Skin on Her Foot 'Falling Off'

Heather Switzer
Heather Switzer/Facebook

All 3-year-old Kalani wanted to do with her family when she got to the beach was fly her kite. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a fun family vacation for her and her two sisters turned into her mom's worst nightmare after an unthinkable accident minutes after they hit the sand. 

  • The family from Portland were settling into a week-long trip in Oregon when Kalani started screaming. 

    The toddler's mom, Heather Switzer, tells CafeMom that it was the second morning of their trip when things took a tragic turn fifteen minutes after arriving at the beach. "I had just made Kalani her kite. She was not even 20 feet away from me, trying to get her little kite up and flying," she wrote in a post warning other parents Facebook. "As she was running back and forth I saw her kind of sink down and then scream."

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  • I immediately ran to her and picked her up. It was then that I saw the skin on her foot falling off," she wrote.

    Heather had no idea what exactly happened but she called 911 as she ran Kalani to the closest bathroom. "When I initially heard her scream, for about two seconds as I was running, I thought the sand may have been too hot. But the reality kicked it, it was maybe 63 degrees out with overcast," she says. "The sand was cool."

     As Heather was running with her daughter cradled in her arms, Kalani began shaking and throwing up from shock. "I placed her foot under the sink and kept her clam by holding her tightly. It took the ambulance maybe five minutes to get to us," she says. "Kalani was transported from the towns small hospital to the number one burn clinic in Portland."

  • It turns out that Kalani had stepped in a spot where someone had recently enjoyed a bonfire. 

    "Once we got to the hospital, they told us this was the third child they had seen for a foot burn. I guess it’s common for people to cover their fire embers/fires with sand," Heather wrote. "This makes a trap for children or anyone for that matter. Kalani had stepped into a freshly covered fire."

    Heather doesn't know how long ago the fire had been "put out," but because it was a windy day and fresh sand completely covered the spot, she had no way of knowing what embers were underneath. "Please be cautious when on the beach. And if you are someone who has covered your fire with sand please PLEASE use water next time," she pleaded. "This could have been so much worse, as my kids love to jump in the sand."

    Second and third degree burns cover both the top and bottom of Kalani's right foot. They are now waiting to out if she will need a skin graph. "I just wanted to warn others because in all the years we’ve spent at the beach, I’ve never heard of someone covering a fire so that possible hazard never crossed my mind. But the hospital said it’s so common and unfortunate," she says. "I want people to be aware and know for now on to use water [and not sand to put out a fire], especially if you have a never ending supply like being on a beach." 

    But that isn't the only thing she wants to raise awareness for: what you do immediately after getting burned at the beach is just as important. "If you even experience a burn or have to help someone that has just been burned, your gut reaction may be to run to the ocean and submerge the burn. Do not do this," she wrote. "Find clean water and treat the burn just like an open wound. Ocean water can contain bacteria like staphylococcus which can enter the blood steam through an open wound."