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news News Thursday, May 21, 2020 Thursday, May 21, 2020 11:49 AM - Thursday, May 21, 2020 11:49 AM

Summer is almost here! Time for a lesson in seasonal burn safety

By Melissa Gorman, MSN, NPD-BC, CCRN-K, clinical education coordinator

Summer is almost here! Time for a lesson in seasonal burn safety

The 2019-2020 school year is almost over and what a year it has been. Districts shifted to remote education due to COVID-19, and children of all ages experienced learning in a different way. While the coming summer months will still require vigilance, there are plenty of fun activities to enjoy with your family from the comfort of your own backyard. While enjoying the warm sun, campfires and cookouts, remember that burn prevention is vital year-round. The following tips can help prevent these burn-related injuries in children.

Sunburns

In addition to being painful, serious sunburns can increase the risk for skin cancer later in life. Here is what you can do to help minimize your child’s risk of sunburn.

  • Keep infants out of the direct sun and dress them in a hat and lightweight clothing that protects the arms and legs.
  • For children and infants over 6 months, liberally apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater to all exposed areas.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2-3 hours, or more often if your child is playing in water or sweating.

Campfires

Campfires and fire pits are a popular summertime activity, but pose a safety risk. Some tips to decrease campfire related burns include:

  • Never use an accelerant such as gasoline on or near the fire.
  • Establish a safe zone (at least 3 feet away from the fire) where children are not allowed to enter.
  • According to the American Burn Association, 70% of campfire burns are caused by embers rather than flames, and fire pits can retain heat for up to 12 hours after being extinguished.

Grills

Grilling is a summertime staple! Enjoy those delicious hot dogs and hamburgers, but remember these important tips:

  • When using a charcoal grill, never use gasoline to accelerate the fire, and keep matches, barbecue lighters and other flame sources out of reach of children.
  • Only use a grill outdoors and position it away from siding, deck railings, trees and play areas. Never grill indoors, on a balcony, near a house or near a tent.
  • Never turn on the gas or light the grill with the lid closed! Leaving the lid closed can cause an unexpected explosion, leading to serious injuries.

Fireworks

We often associate fireworks with summer fun. According to the American Burn Association, more than half of fireworks injuries occur with people who are under the age of 20.

  • Leave the fireworks to the professionals! In Massachusetts, it’s the law.
  • Never allow children to handle fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers can reach 2,000° F. Consider safer alternatives for children such as glow sticks.

Burn first aid

If your child receives a sunburn, apply cool compresses for 10-15 minutes at a time. Use an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol and ensure he/she is well hydrated. Contact your health care provider for a fever, blisters, sunburn in an infant, eye pain, dizziness or signs of dehydration.

For all other burns, stop, drop and roll to extinguish flames if clothing catches fire. Cool the burn with cool water (do not use ice), remove all clothing from the injured area, cover with a clean dry sheet or bandages and seek medical attention. When in doubt, call 911 for help.

In the event that your child does receive a serious burn injury, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston is here to help. Call 844-856-8347 for urgent referrals or 617-722-3000 for more information. All care is provided regardless of a family's ability to pay.