Family demands answers for child’s second-degree burns from spilled hot school lunch

How hot should school lunches be?

That’s just one of the questions a family is asking after their 5-year-old was burned when he spilled his lunch at Nuuanu Elementary.

They showed us the pictures of the child’s injuries and expressed frustration at the slow response from the school.

Christopher Hewa Galicia suffered second-degree burns on his right arm when he spilled a bowl of hot beef stew.

It happened at around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday. Shortly after, his mother, Candice Palacio Carrillo, got the call to pick him up.

“When I got there, his arm was bright red. He was screaming in pain,” she said.

Palacio Carrillo took her son directly to Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children. The doctor told her that her son suffered second-degree burns and was treated with pain medicine and burn cream.

Palacio Carrillo said when she spoke to her son, “he said that he was holding it and that it was too heavy for him to carry, and the beef stew was in a separate container and it tipped over and spilled all over his arm and it was scalding hot.”

She says she had limited contact with the school until Thursday afternoon.

“The school hasn’t called me at all. I’ve only been in contact with the teacher. I didn’t get any formal communication from the school at all,” Palacio Carrillo said prior to receiving a call.

Despite a conversation, she says she still wants answers.

“I definitely wants more supervision in the cafeteria and assistance, especially for kindergarteners. I know that accidents happen, but this one could have been prevented,” Palacio Carrillo said.

In a letter sent home to parents, the school said:

“We are taking this situation very seriously and discussing added safety precautions with school staff and the department’s School Food Services Branch.

“The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) requires food service kitchens to check food temperatures at various stages of the cooking process, and require specific temperatures for certain ingredients. The temperature of yesterday’s school lunch was checked immediately after it was taken off the stove and given an hour to cool before serving, with another 5 to 10 minutes of cooling in each bowl before students arrived at the cafeteria. Moving forward, as an added precaution, the cafeteria staff will check the temperature of the food immediately before it is served.”

The Department of Education says students are supervised during lunch and if a student needs assistance or is strugging to hold a tray, staff will jump in to help.

“We just want to see that this doesn’t happen again to somebody else’s kid, or happen again to my kid,” said Christopher Galacia, the boy’s father.

There are three categories for burns.

A first-degree burn is the least serious and involves only the outer layer of skin. It may cause redness, swelling, and pain.

Second-degree burns extend beyond the top layer of skin and can cause splotchy skin, swelling, pain, and blisters.

The most serious are third-degree burns. They involve all layers of skin and can cause difficult breaking and other toxic effects.

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