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Burn Injuries: Keeping Kids Safe in the Summertime

Jul 03, 2017

Every year we see summertime fun turn into summertime injury when children are severely hurt and hospitalized for burn injuries sustained from fire pits, grills, and bonfires. By utilizing simple safety plans you can help prevent burn injuries from happening to your children.

A fire pit is an enjoyable way to spend cool summer nights. While the fire is mesmerizing and comforting, within a moment it can be the source of pain and injury. Be attentive and place your fire pit at least ten feet away from your home and garage. Also create a safety zone of at least three feet away from the fire pit to prevent harmful falls and avoid the possibility of igniting clothing and lawn furniture from stray sparks.

It is vital to supervise children at all times, not only while the fire is active, but also when it’s smoldering. Extinguish the fire with ample water and stir with a shovel to guarantee a fully drenched fire. Coals and embers can remain hot for days if not appropriately extinguished, and can be a source of severe burn injuries to kids playing near the fire pit – sometimes days later.

Outdoor grilling is a welcomed respite from indoor meal preparation. While it can be a practical cooking option, there are burn injury hazards waiting to occur when safety measures are not incorporated. Similar to the fire pit recommendations, grills should be placed safely away from homes and garages with a “no-go, safe zone” established at least three feet away to prevent contact burns.

It only takes a few seconds for a child to sustain a deep burn injury by exposure to temperatures greater than 140 degrees. The average grilling temperature is 350 degrees, so it would take less than a second for a curious child to sustain a very critical burn injury.

Bonfires differ from fire pits in size, so while there are similar risks there are also a few additional cautions. Commonly, and mistakenly, accelerants are used to increase the size and magnitude of the bonfire. This practice is highly not recommended for it can lead to clothing fires and flash flame burns to faces and arms.

Adolescents have the greatest probability for this type of injury due to their risk-seeking behavior. Many teenagers are admitted to burn centers for serious flame burns because of these misguided decisions. The lengthy hospitalizations that can occur require numerous surgeries and extensive procedures and rehabilitation.

Appropriate supervision is essential for the prevention of burn injuries to children and adolescents, in addition to incorporating the recommended safety suggestions such as thoroughly dousing a fire with water to assure it is completely extinguished. Being watchful and applying the burn prevention strategy of a three feet “no-go, safe zone” is a great tool for avoiding a potentially devastating burn injury. For more information on the Nationwide Children's Hospital Burn Program, click here.

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Sheila Giles
Trauma Program

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.