Red Deer woman’s barbecue brush warning well received

Beverly Smith encouraged by response to her story about being injured by barbecue brush bristle

Beverly Smith has been encouraged by the response to her impassioned warning about the dangers posed by wire-bristle barbecue brushes.

Smith went public last week with her ordeal, which saw her rushed into an operating room in October after a single barbecue brush bristle perforated her small bowel.

Since she took her story to the media, she has heard from many others who had their own alarming stories to recount. Through the comments on a Red Deer Advocate story from Dec. 13, she got into contact with an Ontario woman who lost 43 centimetres of her bowel because of a bristle-related injury.

On Monday, she and another Red Deer woman, Kim Schellenberg, met with Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins to share their concerns.

Schellenberg was injured in 2014 and had to undergo two surgeries as doctors fruitlessly tried to find the tiny bristle. It eventually passed through her system.

There are many others who have come forward with their stories, said Smith.

“I have a few friends who have told me they have found wires in their mouth, just here in Red Deer.”

One person told her that their dog licked a barbecue brush left out and ingested bristles, which proved fatal.

“There are so many stories coming up,” said the nurse.

Smith never expected to become a food-related safety advocate. It has not been easy but she does not regret going public.

“There were a few times I thought, ‘Oh man, nobody is going to listen anyway.’

“But every time I get a little bit discouraged someone says something like ‘You know this happened to me. Thank you for sharing your story.’”

She knows she — or a friend or someone in her family — could have died from the injury she got from a piece of wire less than two centimetres long.

Smith believes that word is getting out.

“People are getting more educated. I wish Health Canada had done this, then I wouldn’t have to.”

While banning wire-bristle barbecue brushes may seem a tall order. She points out baby walkers were once common in many Canadian households. Millions were made over the years by numerous companies.

As stories about their dangers came out, eventually the government moved to ban them in Canada.

The same could happen with the brushes, she said.

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