Stay safe this summer: Banner Health experts share tips to avoid all kinds of burns
TUCSON, Ariz. (June 22, 2020) – Many people know of the sun’s damage to the skin and take precautionary measures to avoid sunburns by putting on sunscreen, wearing a hat and long sleeves when outside, or staying in the shade. Protecting your skin from the sun is a great first step to practicing summer safety, but there’s also another significant hazard to watch out for: burns.
Lourdes Castañón, MD, director of the Banner – University Medical Center Tucson's Burn and Complex Wound Care Program, shares details on the culprits that can cause highly preventable summer burns.
While it may seem intuitive not to leave your child or pet in the car in hot weather, it’s a surprisingly common occurrence. In fact, about 39 children and hundreds of pets die in hot cars each year in the U.S.
Even short intervals of time in a hot car can be dangerous. It’s estimated that in 100-degree weather, common during Arizona summers, the car will reach 119 degrees in just 10 minutes and the temperature rises exponentially with each minute that passes.
Body temperatures in children increase about three to have five times faster than adults, making extreme temperatures even more dangerous for young ones. The bottom line is: never leave your child or pet in the car during the summer months, no matter how short a duration of time.
Asphalt can reach extremely hot temperatures even when the temperature outside is mild. It’s estimated that even in 77-degree weather, asphalt can heat up to 125 degrees. This temperature is commonly surpassed by 20, 30 and even 40 degrees on Arizona summer days, making asphalt a major burn hazard.
Stepping on hot asphalt in bare feet or while wearing flimsy footwear can cause serious burns to the feet. Wear sturdy shoes with thick, protective soles whenever walking outside, including at the pool.
Don’t forget your pets. If it’s too hot for you to walk on the pavement, then it’s also too hot for your pets. You can test ground temperatures by placing your bare foot on the ground for five to seven seconds. If you feel discomfort, it’s time to come up with a plan B for your pet’s exercise.
Objects in the sun
With temperatures regularly surpassing the hundreds during Arizona summers, objects that are usually harmless can quickly turn into burn hazards after sitting in the sun. The most common culprits of burns are car door handles, seatbelt buckles, and other metal car parts, which conduct heat quickly. Metal benches and tables can also cause burns. Car door handles can lead to serious burns and blisters that, at the very least, are extremely uncomfortable.
In hot weather, open car doors with a towel or oven mitt. You should also warn kids not to touch hot cars. Parking in garages or shady spaces and using a sunshade when parking in the sun can help keep the inside and outside of your car cooler. Similarly, test out outdoor seating with the back of your hand before sitting down, or go straight for shady spots if they’re available.
A summer celebration staple, barbecues double as a significant safety concern. Not only can the open flame cause fire if not started or attended to properly, but improperly handling or disposing of coals can also result in fires or serious burns. For example, resist the urge to extinguish coals by covering them with sand. Not only are coals non-compostable, but they could also cause burns if stepped on before they’re completely cooled.
Charcoal company Kingsford recommends “suffocating” the fire once you’re done cooking by putting the lid over your grill. To speed up the cooling process, thoroughly douse coals in cool water before putting the lid on. Once charcoal and ash are completely cold (at least 48 hours after cooking), you can dispose of them by wrapping them in aluminum foil and throwing them away in a non-combustible outdoor trashcan.
Fireworks add flair to your 4th of July celebration, but are perhaps one of the most dangerous summertime activities. To put it in perspective: nearly 13,000 people were injured by fireworks in 2017, and more fires are reported on Independence Day than any other day of the year.
The National Safety Council advises against using consumer fireworks altogether and instead finding your nearest professional display. If you do choose to include fireworks in your July 4th celebration, the first thing you should do is study up on Arizona’s firework laws to make sure you abide by all rules and regulations.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure you’re using fireworks as safely as possible:
- Read directions for use before setting off any fireworks.
- Always deploy fireworks outside and away from any flammable materials.
- Don’t handle fireworks when under the influence.
- Don’t allow young children to handle fireworks and supervise older children.
- Make sure you light fireworks away from yourself, others, and buildings.
- Do not use damaged or malfunctioning fireworks. If you have fireworks left over from your celebration, soak them in cold water before disposal so they don’t accidentally go off.
- Keep a large bucket of water nearby in case of fire.
The best treatment for burns is prevention. If you do happen to get burned, there are burn resources for treatment and rehabilitation. Contact the Banner University Medical Center - Tucson Burn Center today by making an appointment at (520) 694-1001. For emergencies, always call 911.
About Banner Health
As one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, the team at Banner Health is committed to ensuring all Banner locations are a safe place for care. Headquartered in Phoenix, Banner Health owns and operates 28 acute-care hospitals and an array of other services, including: Banner Imaging, Banner Telehealth and Banner Urgent Care. Team members are dedicated to protecting the health and safety of patients, be it a routine checkup, elective surgery or an urgent health service. Waiting room and employee workstation layouts maintain proper social distancing; screenings are conducted at hospital entrances to verify that all employees and visitors are well; and, all Banner physicians are equipped to visit patients remotely. Learn more about Banner's commitment to safety at bannerhealth.com/safecare.