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Summertime burns, heat safety: 6 areas to use caution

bonfire marshmallows

While burn injuries can occur at any time of year, summer is a time when we tend to see different types of preventable injuries, mostly due to outdoor activities and as a result of high temperatures.

Here are some things the Ascension Via Christi Regional Burn Center often sees that families should be aware of this season:


Never use an accelerant such as gasoline or diesel fuel to start a bonfire. Many people believe that these products aren’t flammable, but that’s false.

These accelerants can seep into the ground very easily especially when the ground is wet. When the fire is lit, you may think the flame will stay within a certain area, but you might not be aware of just how far the accelerant has dispersed into the ground.

Pouring an accelerant onto an already lit fire is just as dangerous. Flames from the fire can ignite the vapors and travel back to the container you are holding causing explosions and igniting clothes.

It’s also important to remember that embers and firewood can continue to be hot even days after a fire, so be sure to stir fire remains so they have an opportunity to cool throughout the pit. Be sure to keep small children away from an active and inactive bonfire or fire pit site.

Garden hoses

People may not realize it, but water tends to collect in a hose after it is turned off. On hot days, this water can be heated quickly when left in the sun.

Be sure to store your hose in the shade and when turning it on, let the water run for a few minutes until you are sure the water is cool to the touch. This hot water can cause scald burns to young children and pets.

Playground equipment

In hot temperatures, slides, swings and monkey bars can become dangerous for young children, especially if they are made of metal. An adult should test these surfaces with the back of their hand before a child is allowed to play on them.

Sun exposure

Be smart when spending time in the sun. We have seen patients who have been treated for repeated sun exposure, which happens when they go back into the sun after already receiving a sun burn.

We recommend protecting yourself by wearing sun screen, which should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure and should be reapplied every 1 1/2 to two hours, especially if you are in the water. Small children should wear sun hats and swim shirts and parents should try to find a shady spot if spending lots of time outdoors. There is a false notion that you can’t get a sunburn on a cloudy day, so be sure to protect yourself every time you are outdoors.

Hot cars

There are many ways you and your children could be burned even just getting into a car on hot day. Seat belts, leather seats and even car seat buckles can be extremely hot if the car has been sitting in the sun for any length of time. Try to run the air conditioning for several minutes and check surface temperatures before you or your children get into the car to try to prevent these issues.

Always wear shoes

Wear shoes when spending time outside. This is especially important for children, the elderly, diabetics and those with decreased sensation in their feet. Sidewalks, beach and playground sand and pavement can get extremely hot in high temperatures. Concrete and asphalt can both rise to dangerous temperatures when in direct sunlight, even when the temperature outside is comfortable. Water is not guaranteed to cool the surface enough to protect the feet of children at water and splash parks.

 With a little preplanning you and your family can have a safe and fun summer.

About Sarah Fischer MSN RN

Sarah Fischer, MSN, RN, is the Burn Program coordinator for Ascension Via Christi Regional Burn Center in Wichita, Kansas.