Summer is often synonymous with barbecues, boating and bathing suits. Unfortunately, summer fun comes with the risk of sunburns as well as burns associated with fireworks, campfires and outdoor cooking.
Dr. Tara Wilson, M.D., FACS, is the medical director of the Alexander Burn Center at Hillcrest, the only burn center in northeast Oklahoma and one of 127 burn centers in the U.S.
"We’re open 24/7, 365 days a year." Wilson says. "No burn is too small. If we’re able to see a patient, they will be able to get better faster when given appropriate instruction. Delaying care tends to result in increased risk for infection and difficulty healing."
Wilson says any burn that blisters is at least a second-degree burn or partial thickness burn and should be evaluated by a medical professional.
Here are some tips from Wilson regarding common, summer-related burns.
1. Fun in the sun
Avoid prolonged sun exposure, especially during the middle of the day. Apply sunscreen with frequent reapplication (the American Burn Association recommends the sunscreen have UVA and UVB protection and be reapplied every two to three hours and after swimming). Treat sunburns with cool, dry compresses, hydration, cooling lotions and over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory medicine.
2. Fires, cooking and grilling
Keep a 10-foot kid-free zone. Never use gasoline as an igniter. Don’t use starter fluid on coals that are already warm. Keep appropriate extinguishing agents nearby.
Don’t let children near fireworks (a sparkler can reach 2,000 degrees, hotter than a blow torch). Leave firework activity to professionals.
"During the week surrounding Fourth of July this past season, we saw more than 30 burns to separate patients that occurred due to handling of personal fireworks," Wilson says.
According to the American Burn Association, if a burn occurs, stop the burning process; run cool water (not cold water, not ice) over the burn; remove clothing and jewelry around the burn area; cover with clean, dry cloth or bandage; and seek medical care.