Burn Safety

sunburned shoulder right time, right time medical, righttime medical care

More than 2 million people in the United States suffer burns each year, most of which are minor. Some common types of burns are scalds (liquids, grease, steam); fire (flash and flame); direct contact with an extremely hot surface, and sunburn. Between outdoor cooking, holiday celebrations, and recreational activities, summer is, unfortunately, a common time for burns to occur. People of all ages are susceptible but burns typically impact people in their 20s and children 9 and under more than other age groups.

Outdoor Cooking Safety

  • Keep grills several feet away from other objects, always stay near it, and keep children away.
  • Wear short sleeves while grilling and use cooking utensils with long handles.
  • Before lighting, check fuel connections for leaks and blockages and after use, shut off propane tank valve.
  • Don't start a grill indoors or with the lid closed, never use gasoline as a starter fluid or add starter fluid to hot or warm coals.
  • When lighting, keep starter fluid away from charcoal and for propane grills, turn on a long-handled utility lighter before turning on the gas.
  • While cooking, keep grease and fat from building up to avoid flare-ups.
  • After grilling, store utility lighters inside, dispose of hot coals properly.

Sparkler and Firework Safety

  • Fireworks are illegal in many places so follow all local laws; leave fireworks shows to the professionals.
  • NEVER allow children to handle or light fireworks.
  • Light and hold sparklers one at a time, standing at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing with holding sparklers and drop used ones in a bucket of water.

Sunburn Safety

  • Take cover under a tree, umbrella or other shade during the hours of 10am and 4pm because this is when UV exposure is highest.
  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, and reapply every two hours and after you swim or sweating.
  • Keep children under one year out of the sun and don't apply sunscreen to those under six months of age.
  • Don't use expired sunscreen or one that is more than three years old. 
  • Wear clothing to protect skin (look for some with built-in SPF) but keep in mind that wet clothes offer less protection.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat but if you choose to wear a baseball hat, apply sunscreen to the back of your neck and ears.
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible (most sunglasses in the U.S. offer this, regardless of cost).
  • Be careful of medications that increase photo (light) sensitivity, making you more susceptible to burning more easily.

Campfire Safety

  • Use designated fire pits and clear the ground around the area before lighting
  • Build the fire downwind
  • Never use flammable liquid or leave the fire unattended
  • Keep water or fire extinguisher nearby and douse the fire with water when finished

Thermal Burn Safety

  • Always feel the surface of a slide or other playground equipment for several seconds before attempting to walk on it or slide down it.
  • Metal slides are not always the culprit of thermal burns, which can also happen on plastic or rubber surfaces.
  • Always dress children in appropriate clothing for the playground (e.g., shoes, pants).
  • Wear shoes instead of groing barefoot to prevent asphalt burns.


Treatment for minor burns:

  • Apply cool compresses or bathe the burned area.
  • Use perfume-free, alcohol-free lotion or aloe to cool and moisturize the burn.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing that doesn't irritate the skin.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) as directed.
  • Drink extra fluids.

Never use the following items on a burn:

  • Petroleum jelly or ointment
  • Butter
  • Harsh soaps
  • Over-the-counter benzocaine creams or sprays (may cause allergic reaction)
  • Home remedies (toothpaste, etc.)

Seek medical attention if the burn is accompanied by:

  • Severe pain, blisters and/or swelling that causes difficulty in breathing.
  • Fever over 101° F (38°C).
  • If a first- or second-degree burn is larger than 2–3 inches or on the face, major joint, hands, feet, or the genitals.
  • If an infant under 1 year old has been sunburned.
Treatment for minor burns:
  • Stop the burning process.
  • Run cool water over burned area.
  • Remove all clothing from the burned area.
  • Cover with a clean dry cloth.
  • Call 911.



Simplifying Access to Trustworthy Medical Care