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Don’t Get Burned This Summer: 4 Burns to Avoid

Summer is in full swing, and you’re very likely finding time to slow down, relax and spend quality time with friends and family. Often, these social events involve fire of some sort – grilling or gathering around a fire pit, for instance. And while that can be tons of fun, it also can present danger if you get careless.

“Unfortunately, accidents occur,” said Steven Fisher, MD, chair of the Abington – Jefferson Health Department of Emergency Medicine. “Summer fun can turn serious in the blink of an eye if people get careless, particularly when fire is involved.”

Here are four common summer social situations that can end with a burn and a trip to the emergency room if you aren’t careful.

Gathering around the fire

Backyard fire pits are increasingly popular, and most campers prefer to spend their evenings sitting around a campfire, toasting marshmallows and chatting with friends and family.

“Gathering around a fire is a communal experience,” said Dr. Fisher, “but while you’re relaxing around the fire it’s important to not be too relaxed. You need to stay vigilant and always maintain respect for fire.”

This is particularly true if there are toddlers in your group. Often, young children haven’t quite learned the dangers of fire and, in their fascination, can get too close to the flame. Older children may be tempted to throw things into the fire that can cause flare-ups or even explosions. And if people have been drinking, they need to be careful near the fire –clumsiness can end with a trip to the ER.

Citrus burns

Speaking of drinking, this one seems bizarre but it can happen. While having friends over, hanging out in the backyard and mixing up margaritas seems like good harmless fun. But you could get burned. Believe it or not, the lime juice in margaritas can react with sunlight and cause a chemical burn. It’s a condition called phytophotodermatitis. Symptoms often won’t appear for a couple days. It seems to happen most frequently with limes, but can also be caused by carrots, parsnips, parsley, celery, figs, wild dill, lemons and oranges.

Grilling

Whether you have a gas grill or a charcoal grill, it’s important to have respect for your grill. According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than 16,000 people had to go to the ER with grilling injuries in 2014.

“Children should be kept away from a hot grill until they’re old enough to understand the danger that fire presents,” said Dr. Fisher.

Kids are prone to unknowingly touch a piping hot grill, or pick up the hot lid of a charcoal grill that’s been placed on the ground. It’s important to keep them away from a hot grill, and to educate them about the damage that can be done.

Adults who are cooking need to be vigilant about flare-ups. Grease can accumulate on grills and catch fire when you’re cooking. It’s important to always clean your grill after cooking to avoid the build-up of grease.

Beware of hot surfaces

We’ve probably all started walking across hot sand on the beach, only to realize halfway that the sand is scorching hot and your feet feel like they’re getting burned.

“Hot sand or the boards of a boardwalk can hurt your feet--this is something that you should take seriously,” said Dr. Fisher. “While you might love the feel of your toes in the sand, it’s best to always wear flip flops or sandals if you’re going for a walk on the beach.”

Other hot surfaces to be aware of include sidewalks, asphalt and metal playground equipment, such as slides. Parents need to be cautious about letting children run around barefoot, and should test surfaces before letting their children touch or play on potentially hot equipment.

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