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It’s finally summertime! Your kids are out of school, the weather is warm, and there are so many fun outdoor activities to do. You might have a neighborhood cookout, go on a camping trip, or watch a 4th of July fireworks display. While all of these activities are enjoyable and family-friendly, they can also be dangerous.
Summertime comes with several types of burn risks, especially for children. With the use of fire, the heat of the sun, and more time at home, kids are more at risk for burns in the summer than they are at any other time of year. Don’t worry though; you can take steps to prevent your child from suffering any injuries and have a super fun, super safe summer!
Why are children at greater risk for burns?
While the high temperatures and greater UV ray exposure increase anyone’s chance of being burned, children are often at a greater risk for burns than adults. Kids may be burned more easily because their epidermis, the outer layer of skin, is 20 to 30 percent thinner than adults’. In addition, children’s epidermis and dermis are more loosely attached than adults’. Thinner, loosely connected skin is more susceptible to heat, lack of hydration, and UV rays.
What are the summertime burn risks for children?
Summer is a great time to fire up the grill, roast marshmallows, or watch a fireworks display. However, activities like making s’mores and grilling burgers come with some burn risks that you should be aware of. Some common sources of fire in summer activities include:
- Fire pits
While these fires can cause injuries, you can still use them safely if you follow some guidelines. Here are some suggestions to keep your kids safe around fires:
- Keep children at least three feet away from grills, campfires, and fire pits
- Keep matches, lighters, and lighter fluids away from kids
- Never walk away from a grill when it is in use
- Watch your child closely while they toast foods over a fire
- Make sure all fires are completely put out by pouring water on the coals and stirring until they are completely cool.
- Don’t let children near any fireworks.
2. Hot materials
Fire may be the first summertime burn risk that comes to mind for most people, but hot materials can also cause burns. The sun can easily heat metal, plastic, rubber, asphalt, and concrete to dangerous temperatures. Some common objects that can cause burns are:
- Playground equipment
- Car seats and strollers
- Seat belts
- Water from outdoor hose
Don’t let a fear of hot surfaces stop you from having fun this summer. You can avoid most of these burns by touching the objects to check the temperature before letting your child near them. In addition, dressing your child in in long pants and close-toed shoes can help protect your child’s skin from burns.
School’s out for the summer, which means kids are home all week. Though more summertime burns occur outside, it’s still important to remember the burn risks in the house. A few household items that may cause burns include:
- Stoves, ovens, other cooking devices
- Hot liquids or steam
- Hot tools (irons, hair styling tools, steamers, etc.)
- Electrical outlets
- Fireplaces, space heaters, radiators, etc.
These items can be dangerous, but they don’t have to be. Here are a few guidelines you can implement in your house to protect your children from being burned:
- Reduce the water temperature on your hot water heater to below 120 F
- Don’t leave the stove unattended while cooking
- Turn the handles of pots and pans to the back of the stove
- Establish “NO” zones (fireplace, radiator, stove, etc.)
- Cover unused electrical outlets and keep cords/wires out of the way
- Keep hot tools out of the children’s reach
Sunburns are a different type of summertime burn risk, and they are just as important to prevent as burns from a fire or hot surface, especially for children. Overexposure to the sun is most damaging to the skin before the age of 18. Further, sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer. Luckily, there are several ways to prevent sunburn:
- Avoid exposure when the sun is directly overhead (10:00am-2:00pm)
- Apply sunscreen (over 30 spf is recommended) 30 minutes before going outside; reapply frequently
- Wear protective clothing like long sleeved shirts, pants, hats, and sunglasses
*Note, do not apply sunscreen to babies under 6 months old. Keep them out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
Sunburned skin is often red and painful to touch, and more severe sunburns can develop blisters. After three to eight days, the skin may feel dry and itchy, and it may peel off. You can apply aloe vera, topical moisturizers, hydrocortisone creams, and topical pain relievers to help relieve discomfort.
If the sunburn is very severe, your child may develop blisters and other symptoms like fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, or dehydration. Call your healthcare provider if your child experiences any of these symptoms.
Caring for burns
You may know about the summertime burn risks for children and how to avoid them, but sometimes knowledge isn’t enough to prevent injuries. If your child gets burned, it’s important to know how to take care of them.
Assessing the degree
Before you treat a burn, you need to assess how bad the burn is. There are three degrees of burns, and each degree requires different care. Here’s a list of the degrees of burns and their descriptions:
- First degree—red skin, painful to the touch, no blisters
- Second degree—bright red skin, blisters, may seem shiny, hurts to touch
- Third degree—skin may be black, brown, red or yellow, no pain due to nerve damage
How to care for minor burns
First and second degree burns covering less than 3 percent of the body are considered minor. Generally, these burns are small and easily treatable at home. Here’s how to take care of a minor burn:
- Run cool water (not ice cold) over area and clean with mild soap
- Apply petroleum jelly, aloe vera, or antibiotic ointment
- Try not to break blisters
- Cover with nonstick bandage
- Take OTC pain relievers: anti-inflammatory like Advil (ibuprofen) or Aleve (naproxen)
When to get medical care
While some burns can be easily and safely treated at home, others should be taken care of by medical professionals. If the burn meets any of the following criteria, you may need to visit an urgent care center or emergency room.
- Infected burn
- Red streaks spreading from burn
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Third degree burn
- Burn covers a large area (more than four percent of the body)
- Burn located
- On the face, hands, feet, or genitals
- All the way around a limb or extremity
- Covering a joint
- Burn is on a baby, elderly person, or someone with diabetes or weakened immune system
The Carlson Law Firm Can Help
If your child suffers a burn from negligent care, you should contact a personal injury lawyer. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain, and suffering. Our caring and compassionate legal teams have the knowledge and experience to help you get the justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation. We care, and we can help.