Don’t get burned doing these 7 summer activities

Summer is well under way with all its fun activities – pool time, trips to the playground and grilling. Let’s review what to do – and NOT do – in case you or your kid gets a burn during a summer pastime.

“The first thing to do is to separate yourself from the burn, either by stepping away or removing clothing that is affected. This seems like common sense, but in a panicked situation, it may not be your first thought,” explains our Burn Center Director Larry Jones, MD.

Here are his tips on heading off or treating burns from some favorite seasonal activities:


1. Motorcycle rides

Burns from contact with the muffler tend to be deep ones that will require a skin graft for proper healing. Go immediately to an emergency department for initial care and ultimately to be evaluated by a burn surgeon.


2. Campfires:

Burns from campfires (and from brush fires) can be all sizes and degrees of severity, commonly involving the hands and face. After emergency care for a serious burn, you should be evaluated by a burn surgeon for close follow-up to ensure proper healing.

Never use gasoline to get a fire started. Gasoline fumes violently explode (that’s why we use it to power our cars).


3. Playing with sparklers:

They reach temperatures of 1200+ degrees F. Burns happen most when a person grabs the hot wire at the burning end, resulting in a very deep hand burn. A burn surgeon can monitor it for proper healing.

If using other types of fireworks, please take extreme caution. Some firecrackers are the equivalent of a quarter stick of dynamite. If handled improperly, they can cause debilitating injuries.


4. Grilling with gas:

Keep the lid open when lighting so gas doesn’t build up and cause an explosion. If the grill does not ignite right away, turn off the gas and wait several minutes before trying again.


5. Grilling with charcoal:

Both types of grills can get very hot on the outside. Always wear protective gloves while cooking. Everyone must be mindful of where small children are at all times in relation to the grill. If a child touches the outside of a hot grill, the resulting burn can be very deep and could require surgery.

6. Pool or beach time:

The best way to avoid sunburn is to limit your time exposed to the sun. If that's not possible, use wide-brimmed hats and sunscreen. Reapply as directed on the bottle, more often if you're swimming. If you do get burned, ibuprofen will help relieve pain and inflammation. Sunburn that's deep enough to blister is unusual and should be followed by your doctor. It'll require proper dressings and prescription pain medication.


7. Sliding at the playground:

Not just slides, but any playground equipment where a child will sit can heat up to burning temperatures in the sun. And it’s not just metal equipment – plastic and rubber-coated pieces have been reported in playground burns, too.

Always check the temperature of equipment before allowing your child to play on it. A young child’s skin will burn more easily and faster than an adult’s. If your child does suffer a burn, the Burn Center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital can help.

Burns require immediate care, no matter their severity. For a very serious burn, go straight to the emergency department. For lesser burns, here’s a first aid review from Dr. Jones:

  • Immediately stick the burned body part under cool – not cold – water for five minutes. That stops the burning process.
  • Although it might make the burn feel better, do not put ice on it. That will only make the burn worse.
  • Take off any jewelry near the burned area right away. It will be much more painful to take it off later.
  • Put a first aid ointment like bacitracin, Polysporin® or Neosporin® on a minor burn and cover it with a clean bandage. Do this for a few days until the burn looks better.
  • Although you’ll find homespun remedies on the internet, don’t put butter, mustard, mayonnaise or tea bags on your burn. None of those works.
  • If you have diabetes or severe kidney, heart or lung disease, call your doctor right away if you get even a minor burn.

If the burn does not heal in a day or two, if the pain or redness increases – seek medical attention. No burn is too small to receive proper medical attention.

Read these tips for preventing burns.

Larry Jones, MD, director of Ohio State’s Comprehensive Burn Center, explains how burns of any size or severity should be checked out.