Warning after girl gets frostbite from dry ice

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2008, 12:00am

An 11-year-old girl suffered severe frostbite after she rested a birthday cake packed in dry ice on her lap during a 20-minute car ride, the Consumer Council said yesterday in warning the public to beware of the dangers of mishandling dry ice.

The case was recently brought to the council's attention - although the incident happened at least two years ago. The girl, who was wearing a pair of denim jeans, had put the cardboard box on her thighs.

The unnamed child was not in pain immediately, but red patches soon appeared on her legs after the ride and they began spreading and blistering, the council said.

She was later diagnosed with severe frostbite on 2 per cent of her body, the group said. She spent six days in an area hospital and took several weeks to heal. She still experienced some pigmentation problems, the group said.

After conducting a study of dry ice packaging with the help of vendors, the council found the temperature of the bottom of the boxes reached between minus 39.3 degrees Celsius and minus 59.1 degrees after one hour. 'Consumers are cautioned to handle dry ice with due care; wear thick gloves or use utensils to handle dry ice.

'And should they develop frostbite, they should reheat the body parts with a warm water bath if possible. Avoid rubbing the part or using any home remedies/creams. Seek medical advice if necessary,' the council said.

Professor Ron Hui Shu-yuen, vice-chairman of the community relations committee of the Consumer Council, suggested retailers improve packaging to avoid frostbite injuries.

He said some retailers used a plastic plate to hold the dry ice and put the cake on it. 'What they should do is to include one more layer of isolation between the dry ice and the bottom of the packaging box,' he said.