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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
CALL 911 IN THE EVENT OF A MAJOR BURN.