Burn victim Emma Francis has welcomed a Federal Government ban on table top ethanol burners as she continues to recover from injuries suffered after the product shot out a fireball at her.
This week the Government announced the permanent ban on the burners – that weigh less than 8kg – following more than 100 injuries and at least 36 house fires caused by the items across Australia. The product has also resulted in three deaths overseas.
Last October, Ms Francis visited a friend’s house after attending a cancer fundraiser when the burner – lit only seconds earlier - threw out a large fireball at the 28-year-old Perth woman who was more than a metre away.
Her friends then used a garden hose to put out the flames, which had quickly engulfed her body, causing third-degree burns to her face, neck and chest.
“What haunts me about it is how it was so completely unexpected,” Ms Francis said. “When the flame came out at me, I remember looking down and trying to pat out the flames and quickly realising they weren’t going out.
“My friends were just terrified, it was complete chaos. My skin was bubbling and essentially falling off my face.”
Ms Francis was taken to Fiona Stanley Hospital where she was placed in an induced coma, treated in the Intensive Care Unit and later underwent plastic surgery to address the more than 20 per cent of burns to her body.
After six weeks in hospital she was sent home but will continue to wear compression bandages and a face mask for at least another year while also receiving laser treatment to help reduce scarring, which will never be completely gone.
She is also unable to return to her chosen profession, real estate.
Ms Francis said the accident had changed her entire life, admitting she was still coming to terms with the accident, which had caused serious angst, depression and loss of confidence.
“My life has been forever changed, my psyche has been forever changed,” Ms Francis said. “The trickle-down effect of this has made me extremely risk averse.”
She said she supported the Federal Government decision, which will hopefully stop others form going through the trauma she has experienced.
“What angers me is that there have already been so many injuries and house fires because of these burners,” she said. “It’s so important that the Government has put a stop this.”
Corporations selling these items will face fines of up to $1.1 million – individuals can receive $220,000 fines.