Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Thursday, 19 February 2009

Girl, 14, burned in tanning salon


Girl, 14, who was burnt in a tanning salon

A health and safety investigation has been launched after a 14-year-old girl suffered burns over 70% of her body using an unstaffed tanning salon.

Kirsty McRae was put on a hospital drip after spending £4 for 19 minutes on a coin-operated sunbed on Monday.

Her mother Jill, from Barry Island, Vale of Glamorgan, said unstaffed salons posed "an enormous risk".

James Hadley, who owns Lextan, the salon which Kirsty used, said he was operating within the law.

Kirsty, who is on half-term, originally put £1 into a coin operated sunbed at Lextan, but felt she was not tanned enough, so paid another £3 for another 15 minutes.

No-one was at the salon to prevent her from using the beds or stop her from using the booth for as long as she did.

Kirsty McRae (picture courtesy of Media Wales)
It just beggars belief that anyone can put money into a slot and do this amount of damage to themselves
Jill McRae, mother of Kirsty

She left the salon in pain and was later taken to hospital where doctors told her she had suffered first degree burns, the lowest level of skin burn.

She was put on a drip and given oxygen while doctors rehydrated her and administered painkillers.

Kirsty, a pupil at Bishop of Llandaff High School, Cardiff, has since been released from hospital and has returned home although she must apply lotions to soothe the burns every few hours.

Back home in Barry on Thursday, the teenager said she took full responsibility for the fact that she should not have been in the salon because she was under 16.

She said: "It is something I don't think I'll ever forget about how scared I was and how I didn't realise just going on a tanning bed could result in going to hospital and being quite ill."

But she said there should be more controls on who is using the salons.

"Teenagers are going to push the boundaries. They are going to do things they should not do."

'Partly responsible'

Mrs McRae, a health and safety officer, said she was able identify the symptoms that her daughter was displaying and to recognise that she was suffering from superficial burns, heat stroke and going into shock.

"Had I not had that knowledge I would have been absolutely terrified to see what she was going through, and that's not to say it wasn't terrifying, even with the knowledge, because it was," she sad.

She agreed that her daughter was partly responsible for her condition but said there should be much more regulation of the salons.

She said she did not believe, even at 16 that teenagers were mature enough to understand the risks they were taking by using these salons.

"If Kirsty had collapsed in the salon and no-one knew that she was there, that does not bear thinking about," Mrs McCrae said.

Kirsty McRae (picture courtesy of Media Wales)
It was extremely frightening. I was just glad I got out of hospital
Kirsty McCrae

Kirsty said she had no idea the tanning booths were so dangerous.

"I paid my money. I went in there. I stayed in the booth for 20 minutes and then I came out. I got home and I was extremely red and burnt.

She added: "It was extremely frightening. I was just glad I got out of hospital."

Mr Hadley said his salon had posters all over the walls and on the doors warning of the dangers of sunbeds.

Under-16s were not allowed to use the booths and Mr Hadley said he did not want them using the shop.

"I'm upset to hear about the incident, but I operate within the law," he said.

"It's unfortunate someone chose to ignore the warnings about sunbeds."

Mr Hadley said a member of staff was present every day between 3pm - 4pm and 7pm - 9pm.

The Health and Safety Executive advise under-16s not to use cosmetic tanning equipment and said further guidance would be published in March in response to public concerns about safety at tanning salons, especially those which are unstaffed.

'Extremely concerned'

The Vale of Glamorgan council said it was sorry to hear about the incident and a health and safety investigation was underway at the salon.

"The council is extremely concerned about unmanned tanning salons but there is no current legislation in Wales relating to such premises," said principal environmental health officer Rowan Hughes.

Julie Barratt, director of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said it had been calling for unmanned tanning salons to be banned for some time.

"As this unfortunate case demonstrates there is no effective control over who uses such facilities and how they are used," she said.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it was concerned that young people under the age of 18 were using such tanning facilities but it did not have the power to introduce regulation of the sunbed industry.

However, a spokeswoman said Health Minister Edwina Hart had asked the Department of Health to tighten regulation of the use of artificial tanning devices.

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