A MAN has revealed how his electric heater left him fighting for his life after it exploded and caused him horrific third-degree burns.
Ian Easton, 37, was in his garage working on his guitars when he switched on the radiator to heat the room up.
It was the first time the marketing manager, from Hampshire, had used the heater, which was hung on the wall.
Initially it kicked out a lot of heat so he turned it down, but 15 minutes later there was a massive explosion – that blew the wall of the garage out.
Shaken, Ian tried to climb through the gap but tripped and instinctively put his hands out to break his fall.
But when he looked down at them he was left horrified.
‘Burnt to the bone’
He said: “I put my hands out to break my fall and then saw them – they were burnt to the bone.
“All the skin was burnt off and my fingernails had come off also.
“All the burnt, dead skin had congregated at the ends of each finger.”
All the skin was burnt off and my fingernails had come off also
He ran down his driveway still on fire and was took his hoodie off but the fire had burned his shirt off underneath it.
Ian’s girlfriend Kelly Becks, 37, raced outside and believing he was going to die, she said her final goodbyes before he was airlifted to Salisbury Hospital, where he was in a coma for two weeks in November last year.
He said: “I suffered third degree burns to my hands, nose and ears, second degree burns to my face and body.
“I also suffered severe inhalation burns which resulted in a collapsed lung and pneumonia.”
The inhalation burns have resulted in a vocal cord paralysis which has now affected his breathing and speech.
Ian said: “Initially when waking up from my coma I was experiencing hallucinations from the drugs I was given intravenously.
“I also thought my hands and feet had been amputated. But on my second day of being awake, my burns physio came in and told me he wanted to see my hands, with a smile.
“They removed the bandages and burn bags, revealing extremely painful and burnt hands – but they were there.
“It was the greatest moment of my life. I asked if I would ever play guitar again and he said yes. I cried.
“The teams were incredible, but learning to stand, walk and begin using my hands again was difficult. Adjusting to the new reality was like an out of body experience.”
Ian admits that the real struggle with recovery was just as psychological as it was physical as the effects of the event itself resulted in him having violent flashbacks.
Due to his collapsed lung and pneumonia, the doctors decided not to give him skin grafts and allowed them to heal naturally, so he didn’t end up needing surgery.
He’s since had laser surgery on his hands to reduce scarring and he has been back to playing his guitar comfortably.
Ian said: “Recovery was scary. The psychological effects of the event itself resulted in flashbacks and I did not want to be near anything that could explode – radiators, cookers, boilers – for a few months.
“Returning home was difficult because I saw the damage to my garage for the first time. My friend suggested I face it immediately and conquer it, which I did. I am glad I did that.
The psychological effects of the event itself resulted in flashbacks and I did not want to be near anything that could explode
“As is the case with burns recovery, the psychological effects are as extreme as the physical effects.
“I suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and it took the best part of a year for me to return to any kind of normal life.
“The inhalation burns also meant I was struggling to get enough air in, due to my vocal cords being half closed, thus reducing the size of my airway.
“This was also extremely distressing – air is life, and I felt I was suffocating with every breath. Slowly, I began to manage.
“I was more concerned about my girlfriend, family and friends, and being a burden on them.
I never anticipated how difficult losing the ability to use your hands could ever be
“But they visited me daily, especially my girlfriend and family – I could not have got through it without their constant support and positivity.
“They fed me, bathed me and cleaned me until I was well enough to do it myself. This was tough – as what used to be an automatic process and easy, was now impossible.
“I never anticipated how difficult losing the ability to use your hands could ever be.
“We all take it for granted, of course. As a musician too, they were my tools.”
Ian added: “Even though I will never sing again, I wrote and recorded three albums prior and am proud of what I’ve achieved.
“Having these burns means that I get a lot of looks and comments from people who don’t know me, which I have become used to over time.
“Breathing issues ongoing mean I have procedures booked to try to fix this, but I may be left with breathing and voice problems for the rest of my life.
“The adjustment is difficult – mentally, physically, emotionally and socially. But it has taught me how strong we can be in the most adverse situations, and that there is happiness and satisfaction in the peaceful, quiet life.”