During the summer, many people engage in outdoor activities, including sports, exercise, sun tanning, and going to the beach. In addition, many people use an outdoor grill for cooking and participate in firework displays. While summer can be a fun time of year, it can also be the time of the year when there is an increase in a variety of injuries, including burn injuries.
The different types of burn injuries that can occur during the summer include the following:
- First-degree burns usually account for the majority of burn accidents and often involve excess sun tanning, prolonged exposure to the sun, and contact with hot liquids like tea or coffee. These first-degree burns do not require any specific treatment except for pain relief and applying a cool or a damp cloth over the injury. Recovery after first-degree burns usually occurs within 24-48 hours and there are typically no residual sequelae? (please change this word- never heard of it). However, if a child has been injured, they may need to be admitted for observation depending on the area of the first-degree burn.
- Second-degree burns are the second most common type of burn injury during summer. This may include injuries sustained after coming into contact with fireworks, hot charcoal, or hot cooking oil. These second-degree burns are characterized by blisters and moderate to severe pain. Most people require some type of emergency treatment for pain relief. Depending on which part of the body has been burnt, one may even require admission to the hospital. Recovery after a second-degree burn is slow and can take weeks. Often scarring can occur. For those with large burns, skin grafts may be required. It can take several months to recover from second-degree burns.
- Third-degree burns are the most serious but are fortunately rare. These burns tend to occur when one comes into contact with hot charcoal, fire, oil, or after a massive fireworks explosion. These injuries can be life-threatening and require emergency treatment. All third-degree burns require hospital admission. Most patients need hydration and wound care. Because the third-degree burn is deep, the pain nerves are destroyed, and consequently, one doesn’t feel any pain. However, the injury can result in deep wounds, and skin grafts are almost always required. The recovery is often prolonged, and most people require extensive rehabilitation to regain function of their muscle and joints.
The biggest problem after a second and third-degree burn is the severe alteration in your overall appearance and the high probability of scars. Despite advances in treatment, these disfiguring scars remain for life in many victims of burn injuries.
The best way to treat summertime burn injuries is to prevent them from happening altogether. This can be achieved by applying the following strategies:
- If you have a bonfire or a fire pit, make sure there is protective netting to hold back the cinders. Never allow anyone to come within 6-8 feet of the fire pit. The safety zone should apply to both adults and children. This will help avoid sparks to ignite clothes or burn skin.
- Supervise children at all times. When you have an open grill or barbecue, always make sure that the children are supervised. Once the barbecue is over, extinguish the fire with water and make sure the grill has cooled down. Coal can remain hot for several days and be a cause of severe burns. Make sure you keep this in mind and manage things accordingly.
- When preparing a meal on a grill do not permit children to come nearby. It can take just a few seconds for a child to suffer a second or third-degree burn from an oil spill. Also, try to grill and barbeque at a safe distance from the crowd. If you are having a party and have quite a few people over, your grill/barbecue should be in a corner where both children and adults can’t run into any hot equipment.
- Do not use accelerants to start a fire as these chemicals can quickly result in a raging out- of-control fire that could lead to flash flame burns on the body.
- Always have a fire extinguisher nearby and plenty of water when preparing food on a grill.
- When going out in the sun, use ample sunscreen every 1-2 hours.
- If there are any fireworks, make sure you stand back and observe from a distance.
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