Summer heat takes on a whole new meaning as warm weather draws more people outside to work, play and dine. This is the time of year when the number of burn injuries increases right along with the temperature.
No one plans to get burned ahead of time, so it’s a good idea to know when you are at risk and what to do if something happens. Kessler Burn Center program director Holly Moynihan offers this information and advice.
Here are some common sources of summertime burns:
- Campfires (especially when stoking flames with gasoline or igniter fluid)
- Sun exposure—wear hats with wide brims to protect the face; apply sunscreen every four hours and after swimming
- Tar, cement, and other outdoor work-related burns
- Fireworks, including sparklers
Burns require immediate care. If it is a very serious burn, go straight to the Emergency Department. But, for lesser burns, here are the steps you should take:
- If a burn is caused by a chemical or fluid contacting the skin, rinse the burned area in cold water. If you’re in the backyard, go ahead and use the garden hose. Don’t use ice water or butter, which can make the burn worse.
- Other burns should be gently cleansed with a mild soap like Ivory or Dove.
- Unless clothing is sticking to the burned area, take the clothing off. If it is stuck, leave it on.
- Remove rings or other jewelry from a burned area in case it swells.
- Cover burns with a clean, dry towel or gauze pad.
- Don’t break blisters. Let a doctor handle that.
Unlike most injuries, burns tend to get worse over time. So, unless it is a very minor burn, you should seek medical attention right away. A specialized burn clinic focused on treating burn injuries may offer the most appropriate care rather than an all-purpose urgent care center.
Holly Moynihan, BSN, RN, is program manager for the for the UR Medicine Kessler Burn Center, which operates an Urgent Care Burn Clinic at Strong Memorial Hospital, open weekdays from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Appointments are required, but most patients can be seen on the same day they call.
Put these numbers on your refrigerator, just in case you need us this summer:
585-ASK-BURN, or 585-275-2876.