HONOLULU (KHON2) — Sophie and Rich Villa say they were spending the final leg of their vacation at one of their favorite beaches, “Grandma’s Beach” on Maui. Their 6 -year-old son Noah was playing with one of his friends nearby when he started screaming in pain.
“He was screaming very, very loud, and we got him into the car when we realized it was a burn and immediately put cold water on it,” said Sophie Villa.
“Went to find the spot and sure enough, someone dumped the coals they were cooking on in the sand and buried it,” said Rich Villa.
They drove him to the emergency room where they found out the extent of the damage.
“All the way to the urgent care was pretty tortuous. He was screaming and crying and couldn’t control his body,” said Sophie.
Villa said Noah suffered a second degree burn on the bottom and side of his right foot.
“He’s not able to walk on his foot for ten days, and so we have to clean it every day and put some bandages on it, and then we’ve got to carry him around now,” said Rich.
Michael Loftin, executive director of 808 Cleanups said thinking sand will put out the coals is a common misconception.
“I think a lot of people think that if you cover a fire with something, it snuffs it out, and it’s just not the case for things like sand,” said Loftin. “Sand you never want to use because sand has plenty of airspace. It will not only keep the fire hot, but allows airflow.”
One of the ways you can extinguish the fire in your grill is by snuffing it out and closing all vents.
Loftin said people need to always make sure that they are extinguishing their coals correctly and never leave them behind at the beach.
He said you should dispose of your coals at a designated concrete ash bin at the beach. If that isn’t available, you should extinguish the coals, then take it back with you to your home.
“If you want to dispose of [the coals], always use water, [and] soak it thoroughly. Give it at least ten minutes, and then you can drain that and wrap it in something like aluminum foil and dispose of it properly.”
Rich and Sophie say they want to spread awareness of this issue.
“Someone didn’t take the time to dispose of their coals the right way and someone got hurt,”said Rich.
“If you’re along the water, take the time to put the coals out because you don’t know who’s going to be walking through and the kids. You know we’re here for three weeks and now our last chunk of our trip is dealing with this,” said Sophie.
On top of being dangerous, leaving live coals behind at the beach is against the law. According to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, you could be fined $500 as well as pay for any additional administrative costs and damages.