THE mother of a nine-year-old boy badly burnt by cap gun ammunition has called for a ban on the explosive toys.
Kye B suffered excruciating pain when his trouser pocket full of caps exploded last week.
After buying a new set of ring caps from a supermarket, he shoved them into a pocket holding other caps and they burst into flames.
His mother Lynn, who was interstate at the time, received a distressing phone call.
"He rang me up and said 'can you buy me another pair of army pants?'," the Tasmanian resident said.
"I asked why and he said his others had exploded and caught on fire.
"I couldn't believe that caps would do that."
Kye, a Grade 4 Primary student, has been off school for a week.
In hospital to have his dressings changed yesterday, he recalled his frightening experience.
"It hurt after the explosion . . . and then it just went numb," he said.
His doctor, Tasmanian Burns Unit director Craig Quarmby, who supports the call for a ban, said Kye was extremely lucky he received immediate first aid.
A woman nearby came to his aid, pouring water on the wound.
"Any toy that has an explosive potential, whether it be cap guns or tiny firecrackers, when there is a mass of them they can do a lot of damage," Dr Quarmby said.
"People can lose fingers or have burns that are deep enough to require skin grafting, which not uncommonly results in contractures of the fingers meaning further surgery down the line.
"Ideally they shouldn't be sold due to the harm they can inflict."
He said it was unknown what caused the explosion, but said it could have been caused by friction, body heat or static electricity.
Kye's burns were unlikely to leave significant scarring.
The Festival IGA supermarket owner said all packets of caps sold in the store warned against putting caps in pockets and were labelled unsuitable for children under eight.
Tasmanian Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading director Chris Batt said his office had investigated the issue in the past.
"We are certainly interested in subsequent cases," Mr Batt said.
"We have a product safety committee and if there are concerns that products are dangerous to the public then there is the capacity to temporarily or permanently ban products."
Retailer Chickenfeed was fined $500 for contravening the Hazardous Goods Act after a similar cap gun-related injury in 2002.
A nine-year-old boy bought caps at a Claremont store which exploded in his pocket, causing burns to his left leg, left hand and fingers.
His injuries meant he could not wear pants for two weeks.
The Hobart Magistrates Court found a warning on the cap packet that caps should not be put in pockets had been partly obscured.
A study into cap gun burns in children published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health in 2007 identified five cases of cap gun burns in five years at a New South Wales children's hospital.
The research, conducted at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, found recently produced caps may be more susceptible to spontaneous combustion.
The recommended first aid for burns is to apply cool running water for 15 minutes.
The reason that I have put this on my blog is because I am the woman mentioned in the article that went to Kye’s assistance. It was frightening enough for me to see this young boy with the pockets on his trousers exploding so I can’t imagine how he must have felt! Luckily I have my Senior Level First Aid certificate and knew what to do and I raced him down to the public toilets and told him to drop his pants! Now, not a lot of young boys would do that – particularly when he doesn’t know the person telling him to do it – but boy his pants were dropped quicker than lightening. I was holding his hand under the running water and trying to check his thighs for burns when the local pharmacy assistant walked in. I asked her to go and get the pharmacist as he would be able to assess how bad the burns were.
Anyway, Kye’s grandmother was called and she came to collect him and then take him on to the hospital, an hours drive away in Hobart.
So please, please tell all parents that cap guns or toys are dangerous. Burns hurt – a lot . I don’t want to see another child hurt in this way.
Despite this incident and my frequent requests, the caps are still on sale at our local supermarket……….